LOGAN — The defending Class AAA state champion Logan Lady Wildcats saw their season come to an end at 11-12 last Monday night, as they endured a second half struggle and ultimately fell to the visiting Lincoln County 36-33 in the Class AAA Region IV Section 2 semifinals.
Second-seeded Logan swept the regular season series, winning 58-53 at Lincoln County on January 30 and then edging the Lady Panthers 42-36 at Willie Akers Arena on February 13, but head coach Randy Adkins’ third-seeded team got the last laugh on this night.
The Lady Wildcats led 7-0 to start the game after a jumper from Addyson Amick with 4:38 left in the first quarter. Logan then led 10-4 at the 3:12 mark following a bucket from Halle Crouse, but the road team used layups from Kaden Peters and Hayden Moore to trail by just two at 10-8 after one period.
Lincoln County scored four straight to open quarter number two and led 12-10 with 6:22 left in the half, but Logan came right back with 9-0 run and held a 19-12 advantage after a layup from Rylee Conn with 3:34 until the break.
However, the Lady Panthers answered with their own 5-0 run, and a floater by Peters with 47.2 seconds until intermission made it a 19-17 game as the two squads went into the locker room at halftime.
Buckets by Bam Mosby and Crouse increased the Lady Wildcat lead to six at 23-17 early in the third frame, and then the two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter. Logan led 29-23 at the end of three stanzas.
Layups from Elizabeth Blankenship and Gracie Clay cut the Lincoln County deficit to just two at 29-27 with 4:17 left in the contest, and then the Lady Cats scored their first point of the fourth quarter with 3:35 left off a Crouse free throw to push the Logan lead to 30-27.
The Lady Panthers’ Maci Lunsford knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game at 30-all with 3:22 remaining, and that remained the score until Lincoln took a 32-30 lead with 51 seconds left thanks to a layup from Peters.
Logan jumped back in front on their next trip down the floor, however.
Autumn Adkins buried a trey to put the Lady Wildcats ahead 33-32 with 38 ticks left in the ballgame, but Lincoln County returned the favor courtesy of a jumper from Alyssa Adkins, and they led 34-33 with 21.5 seconds left.
The Blue and Gold came away empty handed on their next possession, and with 8.1 seconds left, Clay was sent to the charity stripe where she calmly sank both foul shots and upped the Lady Panthers’ lead to 36-33.
A potential game-tying three from Logan’s Natalie Blankenship fell short at the buzzer, and Lincoln County escaped with a 36-33 victory.
Crouse and Autumn Adkins were tied for the team lead in points for the Lady Wildcats with nine each while Natalie Blankenship and Conn each tallied four points. Mosby added three points, and Amick scored two.
Logan head coach Kevin Gertz tipped his hat to Lincoln County after the game, saying they earned the victory.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Gertz said. “They play hard every night. I think they let the moment get to them a little bit this year. It’s all part of growing up. It’s all part of learning to be adult, and they’re not adults, they’re kids. Even our seniors. Going to miss them a lot. Natalie Blankenship has been a leader all year long. Autumn Adkins, super leader all year long. Rylee Conn came in and did a super job. Really played huge the last couple weeks. Going to miss the daylights out of them.”
The Lady Wildcats went 6-21 from the free throw line for the game and 1-9 in the fourth quarter.
“There’s the difference,” Gertz said. “That’s tough. It’s not like they were going up there trying to miss. You got people that have knocked foul shots down all year long, and it didn’t happen tonight. It was just a snowball effect.”
Gertz says the team has 11 kids returning next year and a lot of good basketball players returning.
The Lady Cats’ head coach knows the loss on Wednesday was a hard one to take, but he says his players will use this moment as a means of improvement heading into this offseason as well as next season.
“This will be hard for a few days,” Gertz said. “Then, it will be time to turn around and get to work again. I know those kids. They’ll work their tails off to make sure this doesn’t happen again. This is a tough one. Hard to beat a team three times in a row, and we had our chances. But, we didn’t capitalize, and that’s athletics.”
HD Media reporter Cameron Maynard primarily covers sports in Logan County.