HURRICANE — Close, oh so close.
The Logan High School boys’ basketball team nearly pulled off an upset on Tuesday night and almost became the Cinderella team for next week’s Class AAA state tournament with a nine-win season.
A big off-balance 3-point shot by senior guard Trent Dalton almost got the Wildcats there.
But it wasn’t meant to be as Hurricane was able to outlast Logan 64-58 in overtime in the Class AAA Region 4 co-championship game before a standing room only crowd at the smallish Hurricane High School gym.
It’s been a long season but Logan fans had something to cheer about as Dalton battled a double team and drilled a clutch 3-pointer with four seconds left to tie it at 54, sending the game into overtime.
Hurricane, though, took the initiative and outscored Logan 10-4 in the extra period to punch its first ticket to the state tournament in the modern era. Hurricane’s last trip to the state tourney was way back in 1954 under the old format.
“I thought that we battled and played really hard,” Logan coach Mark Hatcher said. “We had a pretty good plan and our kids did exactly what I needed them to do to win. We did a really good job defensively on their best player. We got into some foul trouble and that hurt us there at the end. I thought our leadership was good and they did a great job of doing what they had to do to win the game. Every senior stepped up whether in the game or in the locker room.”
Logan, which suffered its worst season in 10 years since a 9-14 campaign in 2003, closed out the year with an 8-17 record. It was Logan’s fewest wins since a four-win season back in 2001.
The Wildcats, though, had advanced to the regional finals with last week’s sectional semifinal win in overtime over Spring Valley. The Cats then lost to Huntington in the section title game putting LHS in Tuesday’s regional final.
Hurricane, winners of 12 out of its last 13 games, advanced to the state tournament with a 20-5 mark.
It wasn’t easy for the Redskins.
The Wildcats made sure of that.
Logan led Hurricane 38-35 after three quaraters and held a 47-46 lead with 2:41 left after senior A.J. Reynolds drove down the lane for a score.
The Redskins went ahead 49-47 with a 3-pointer by Rasaan Harris but Dalton tied it at 49 with a pair of big-time free throws with 2:05 remaining.
Hurricane then appeared to be headed to victory after a bucket by Henry Sorsaia and three free throws by Harris to make it 54-49 with 27.7 ticks left.
Logan tried to come back but Zak Miller missed two deep 3-point shots in the final minute and a half.
The bucket by Reynolds was followed by Harris’ two misses from the free throw line with 11.9 ticks to go which could have put the game away.
Dalton’s 22-foot 3-ball then sent the game to overtime and kept Logan in the hunt for a state tournament berth. Hurricane’s Harris dribbled to half court and launched a 35-foot 3 at the buzzer which clanged off the rim.
“That was a great shot by Trent,” Hatcher said. “He kept telling me that we weren’t going to lose. He made a great play right before that when he stole the ball from their big guy and got a jump ball for us and we called timeout. To come back and do that there that was a huge shot. We got the game into overtime but we knew that we might be in trouble because of our foul trouble. They then went inside with the Sorsaia kid.”
The Redskins then took charge in the OT with three straight baskets by Sorsaia down on the blocks to take a 60-56 lead.
Harris missed two more foul shots with 1:38 left and Logan’s Z. Minnick then cut it to 60-58 with 1:20 to go on a baseline drive off the glass.
Hurricane then milked some of the clock and called timeout. With 19 seconds to go Ace Estep’s baseline drive pushed the lead to 62-58 for the Redskins.
Logan still had a chance but was called for an inbounds violation with 11 seconds to go.
Hurricane’s Sorsaia then finally put Logan away with a bucket with three seconds left.
Time then ran out and Hurricane’s on-court celebration began.
Reynolds, playing in his last prep game for Logan, led the Wildcats with 18 points. Miller had 11 and Chase Preston 10. Worm Street had six points, while Dalton and Minnick tallied five each. Senior T.J. Tomblin added two points and senior C.J. Williams had one point.
Sorsaia paced Hurricane with 18 points. Harris tallied 13, Brandon Ford 12 and Trey Dawson 10. Estep added six points and Garrett DeFries had five.
Hurricane led Logan 13-10 after one quarter and outscored the Cats 14-9 in the second to take a 27-19 halftime advantage.
Logan outscored the Redskins 19-8 in the third to go ahead 38-35 after three periods of play. Miller helped Logan’s comeback in the third after drilling a pair 3-point shots from the corner.
Hurricane then was able to hold off Logan in the end despite making only 6-of-17 free throws in the fourth period and the overtime combined.
Redskins’ coach Lance Sutherland said he’s thrilled to make it to Charleston.
“We’re excited. It’s our first ever trip to the state tournament in Charleston,” Sutherland said. “Back in 1954 my mom was a cheerleader on the team that last made it to the state tournament. This is our first trip in the modern era.”
Hurricane might have put Logan away earlier but poor foul shooting kept opening the door for the Cats. Logan shot an even worse percentage. The Redskins were just 12-for-26 from the free throw line for a woeful 46.1 percent. Logan made just 8-of-19 foul shots for only 42.1 percent.
“The free throw shooting stunk on both sides,” Sutherland said. “But we never panicked and we never got down and folded the tent. We stayed optimistic and that’s the way that they have been all year. They’re steady. Henry then decided that he wanted to post up and I think that was the difference in the overtime.”
Sorsaia said it is a wonderful feeling to finally make it to the Big Dance. Hurricane, over the year, has been known for its top-level football program while basketball has largely taken a back seat.
“It really does feel great,” he said. “We went 8-15 my freshman year and we only had 10 wins last year. Now, we’ve got a 20-win season heading to the state tournament and it’s awesome.”
Tuesday’s game was the final high school contest for Logan’s senior players including: Dalton; Tomblin; Reynolds; C.J. Williams; Brant Williams; Eric Burnette; and Zak Hatfield.
“It was a great game and so far it has been the best regional game in the state,” Hatcher added. “These kids have had a tough year as far as wins and losses but they were one of the most enjoyable groups to work with because they acted the right way and very few times have they not played hard. They always played together. We became a team and got better as the season went on.”
For Logan, it’s only the second time since 2004 that it has failed to make it to the Class AAA state tourney with 2009 being the other year.
Tuesday night’s loss also snapped a three-year state tournament string.
Logan went on to win the Class AA state title in 2005 and the Class AAA state championship in 2010.
The Wildcats had first-round state tourney exits in 2011 to Morgantown and 2012 to Martinsburg.
Also punching its ticket to the Class AAA state tournament on Tuesday were: Morgantown; Parkersburg South; Beckley Woodrow Wilson; and Huntington.
Three eastern panhandle games — Greenbrier East-South Charleston, Elkins-Martinsburg and Washington-Lewis County — were delayed due to wintry weather.
Hurricane went 2-0 against LHS this year, also winning 67-60 in the season opener on Dec. 11 at Willie Akers Arena.
Logan Wildcats (8-17)
2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Schedule
Dec. 11: Hurricane, L 60-67
Dec. 14: Berwick, Pa., W 70-19
Dec. 20: Huntington, L 50-76
Dec. 21: vs. Magnolia (at George Wash. Tournament), L 60-86
Dec. 22: vs. St. Albans (at George Wash. Tournament), W 51-37
Dec. 28: George Washington, L 49-54
Jan. 5: at Charleston Catholic, L 39-42
Jan. 8: at Greenbrier East, L 53-60
Jan. 11: Westside, W 66-55
Jan. 12: at Point Pleasant, W 47-40
Jan. 15: at Lincoln County, W 45-40
Jan. 22: Tug Valley, L 41-53
Jan. 25: Belfry, Ky. (King Coal Classic at Logan), ppd.
Jan. 26: Greenbrier East (King Coal Classic at Logan), L 43-47
Feb. 4: Belfry (Ky.), ppd.
Feb. 5: Lincoln County, W 57-38
Feb. 8: Point Pleasant, L 51-60
Feb. 9: at Westside, L 58-62
Feb. 12: at Parkersburg, L 66-69
Feb. 13: vs. Winfield (at Charleston Civic Center), L 42-61
Feb. 14: Tolsia, W 63-52
Feb. 16: at Tug Valley, L 44-60
Feb. 19: at George Washington, L 30-63
Feb. 21: Capital, L 48-55
Feb. 27: vs. Spring Valley (sectionals), W 76-71 (OT)
March 1: vs. Huntington (sectionals), L 36-49
March 5: at Hurricane (regionals), L 58-64 (OT)