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Crouse, Blankenship Set Career Highs In Opening Round Over Philip Barbour

PHOTO | Boothe Davis: Captured by the Moment Photography

Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports

CHARLESTON, WVa Natalie Blankenship and Halle Crouse combined for 39 points as Class AAA No. 2 Logan advanced to the semifinals for the second consecutive year with a 62-44 victory over No. 7 Philip Barbour in the Class AAA quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Crouse and Blankenship set career highs with 20 and 19 points respectively to help Logan overcome 24 turnovers and 17 Philip Barbour offensive rebounds.

“It’s about surviving and advancing and then fixing it,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “We played well enough to win, but we can’t turn it over 24 times and give up 17 offensive rebounds and expect to do what our goal is, and our goal is to win the title.”

Crouse scored Logan’s first five points and scored 10 of the Wildcats 18 points in the opening quarter as Logan led 18-9 after one quarter of play.

Crouse scored 12 of her 20 points in the first half on 4-of-7 shooting and was 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

For the game, Crouse finished 6-of-11 from the field, was 4-of-8 from 3 and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line and finished with five steals.

“My nerves gave me a little bit of adrenaline,” Crouse said. “Once you start playing, it gets a lot easier after you hit your first shot.”

Blankenship scored 10 of her 19 points in the second half and finished the game 7-of-8 from the field, 1-of-2 from 3 and 4-of-4 from the foul line to go along with a game-high six steals and five assists.

“Just got to get out there and fight,” Blankenship said. “You have your team behind you, and we just got to help them.”

Leading scorer Peyton Ilderton finished with 10 points to go along with five assists and five steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Ilderton played 22 minutes and was 3-of-9 from the field.

“We didn’t play our best game that we are capable of playing so much better than that and we know that as a team,” Ilderton said. “We are there for each other, cheering each other on and our chemistry is awesome. These two (Halle and Natalie) played amazing.”

“I didn’t score like I usually do, but I tried to get after it on defense,” Ilderton said. “I tried to do my part on defense and that usually leads to easy baskets for us.”

Gertz said he wouldn’t trade Ilderton for any player in the state. Ilderton, who has scored double figures in every game this season for the Lady Wildcats, does not have to score 20 points every game for Logan to be successful according to Gertz.

“Peyton’s our leader, there’s no doubt about that,” Gertz said. “She didn’t have her normal scoring night, but I’ve told many, many, many people, that she can go every night not scoring a point and be worth her weight in gold just because of how she defends.”

Logan led by as many as 17 points in the first half and led 33-20 at halftime, but Philip Barbour, making its first ever state tournament appearance, fought back to within nine points, 33-24, on Braylyn Sparks’ jumper with 5:38 to play in the third quarter.

“I am really proud of these girls,” Philip Barbour coach Rick Mouser said. “All year they have gotten through on guts and playing hard, and that continued today.”

“They gave it all they had,” Mouser said. “When you play hard good things happen.”

Sparks led Philip Barbour (14-9) with 12 points, five steals and four assists. Mattie Marsh came off the bench to post a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

The Colts shot 18-of-52 from the field but was just 1-of-11 from 3, outrebounded Logan, 37-32, but turned it over 23 times.

“Most of the time, we are all out 94 feet and try to run and play pressure defense,” Mouser said. “They (Logan) made it tough to play that for a while, we usually turn the ball over and create turnovers, and it wasn’t any different today.”

Logan was 20-of-42 from the field for the contest and shot 9-of-18 from 3-point range. Gertz, who was in attendance for Wednesday’s morning North Marion-Keyser game, said that in practice they have a drill called 55 where players must make 11 shots from five stations before moving to the top of the key to shot 3’s.

Gertz was informed by his coaching staff that the team made 25 3’s during Wednesday morning’s shoot around.

“I told our coaches that this was going to be a good day, and it was,” Gertz said. “We shot the daylight out of it, and we shot it like I thought we were capable of shooting, and we haven’t done that, not that well, but today was unbelievable.”

Logan (23-2), winners of 13 straight games, will face No. 3 North Marion (23-2) at 11:15 a.m. Friday morning. North Marion defeated No. 6 Keyser 61-23 in the first game of Wednesday’s morning session.

North Marion held Keyser to 8-of-51 shooting and forced 35 turnovers in a quarterfinal victory. The Lady Huskies scored 27 points off turnovers and outscored Keyser 36-10 in the paint.

“Their offense is their press, is their defense, they trap everything,” Gertz said. “Turnovers don’t bother me so bad as long as they are not live ball turnovers.”

“I have practiced this before and we are practicing this tomorrow,” Gertz said. “If you are trapped in the corner or if you are trapped on the side, it is better to hit someone in the fifth row then to throw the ball back to the middle, for someone to get a layup.”

At Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center

Class AAA Quarterfinals

(2) Logan 62, (7) Philip Barbour 44

Philip Barbour (14-9)

Averi Carpenter 2-9 1-2 5, Braylyn Sparks 4-8 3-4 12, Arrington Sparks 2-4 1-3 5, Sara Simon 1-3 0-6 2, MacKenna Halfin 2-5 0-0 4, Leah Montgomery 0-1 1-2 1, Cheyenne Kittle 1-2 0-0 2, Mattie Marsh 5-13 1-3 11, Carli Cvechko 1-3 0-0 2, LaDonna Herron 0-4 0-0 0. Totals: 18-52 7-20 44.

Logan (23-2)

Natalie Blankenship 7-8 4-4 19, Abbie Myers 1-5 2-2 4, Halle Crouse 6-11 4-4 20, Peyton Ilderton 3-9 2-5 10, Emma Elkins 0-4 0-0 0, Addyson Amick 1-1 0-1 3, Mika Dalton 2-4 1-3 6, Bam Mosby 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 20-42 13-21 62.

Philip Barbour 9 11 12 12- 44

Logan 18 15 13 16- 62

3-point field goals- Philip Barbour 1-11 (Carpenter 0-4, Sparks, B. 1-3, Sparks, A. 0-1, Cvechko 0-1, Herron 0-2), Logan 9-18 (Blankenship 1-2, Crouse 4-8, Ilderton 2-2, Elkins 0-2, Amick 1-1, Dalton 1-3). Rebounds- Philip Barbour 37 (Marsh 15), Logan 32 (Elkins 7). Assists- Philip Barbour 8 (Sparks, B. 8), Logan 16 (Blankenship 5, Ilderton 5). Total fouls- Philip Barbour 22, Logan 17. Fouled out- Ilderton.




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