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Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
LOGAN, WVa Through three quarters, Friday’s Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 championship game was everything one would expect from two of Class AAA’s top six teams.
Wayne appeared to have the momentum heading into the final quarter holding a slim 30-28 lead.
The Lady Pioneers had a seven-point first half lead and had an answer for every run that Logan had. Time after time, Wayne answered with a basket after Logan had drawn closer and closer to the Lady Pioneers.
Logan freshman Halle Crouse knocked a 3 from the left corner with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter to tie the game, 28-28, but Wayne answered when Brooke Adkins found Eve Brown on the right block for a layup and a 30-28 lead with 1:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The game would stay that way until Emma Elkins sent the Logan faithful into a frenzy with 3 from the right corner just in front of the Lady Wildcats bench to give Logan a 31-30 lead with 7:16 to play.
“I thought the roof was going to come off,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said of the crowd. “That right there was a 1970’s, 1980’s crowd, and you don’t hear that a lot.”
Elkins 3 was just the start of things to come for the Lady Wildcats as they scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to take control and pull away from the Lady Pioneers for a 52-38 victory Friday night at Willie Akers Arena.
After Wayne failed to convert on the offensive end, Crouse knocked down her third 3 of the night to give Logan a 34-30 lead with 6:40 to play.
“Emma’s shot put us in the lead for good,” Gertz said. “We get a stop, come back and Halle hits a 3 to put us up by four.”
The Lady Pioneers turned the ball over on the next offensive possession and Natalie Blankenship hit the third 3 of the fourth quarter for Logan giving the Lady Wildcats a 37-30 lead with 5:43 to play.
“We get a stop, come back again, and hit Nat in the corner,” Gertz said. “As soon as it left her hands, I screamed BOOM! I knew it was in!”
Peyton Ilderton’s two free throws gave Logan a 39-30 lead with 4:02 to play before Brooke Adkins ended a long scoring drought for Wayne with a free throw to cut the advantage to 39-31 with 3:21 to play.
The Lady Pioneers would get no closer than six points the rest of the way as Logan would make their final three shots from the field and would go 7 of 8 from the free throw line in the final 2:52.
“Once we got up by seven points, I knew we were going to have to make them chase,” Gertz said. “They only had four team fouls at the time, and I knew we were going to eat up the clock.”
The victory gave Logan its second consecutive Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 championship and guaranteed the Lady Wildcats a home game for Tuesday’s night Region 4 championship against No. 5 Ripley.
A win Tuesday night and Logan is headed for the Class AAA girls basketball state tournament for the second consecutive season.
“One more win and we go back to the state tournament,” Gertz said. “Ripley is great, Ripely is phenomenal. We better bring our A game, or it might be our last.”
Wayne, led by as many as seven points in the first half, but only shot 5 of 18 from the field in the second half while Logan was 8 of 15 from the field including a perfect 6 of 6 in the fourth quarter compared to the Lady Pioneers 2 of 9 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter.
“They made shots and we didn’t, and I think that is what it all boils down to tonight,” Wayne coach Wade Williamson said. “They made some big 3’s and we did not score at the time. If you do not score and keep pace with them then you are running a risk.”
Logan was 16 of 21 from the free throw line while Wayne was 6 of 14. In the fourth quarter, Logan made 9 of 11 attempts from the charity stripe and Wayne just 4 of 8 from the line.
“We didn’t make shots and we didn’t do some things when we had the lead,” Williamson said. “They outscored us horrifically at the foul line and we left so many points on the foul line.”
Brooke Adkins, Mikayla Stacy and Jasmine Tabor led Wayne with nine points each and Laneigh Brooks added seven.
“We have a had a lot of games where we have had four in double figures or three kids in double figures,” Williamson said. “All five of our starters have led us in scoring at some point in time or the other.”
Wayne, who starts three freshmen and a sophomore, drops to 17-6 with the defeat on the season. The Lady Pioneers, who got off to a 15-2 start to the season, has lost four of their last six games.
“I think the atmosphere got to us at times, I think the youth got to us at times and they are a pretty old team,” Williamson said. “I am a really young team and it showed up a little bit, and hopefully we can learn a little bit of something from this and move forward.”
Ilderton led Logan with 17 points on just 2 of 6 shooting but was 13 of 15 from the free throw line. Blankenship and Crouse scored 11 points each for the Lady Wildcats.
“For some reason, her (Ilderton) legs were not there tonight, and I have never seen her with the little movement that she had tonight,” Gertz said. “Talking about Peyton, she is the most conditioned athlete that I ever coached and normally she takes your best player and takes them out and she did that again tonight.”
“She makes jumpers, she attacks and gets people involved. She didn’t attack like I wanted her to tonight,” Gertz said. “She said she just didn’t have the legs, and I told her come start of the fourth quarter that she better find legs, and that she had to find them to make this happen.”
Despite the loss, Wayne is still alive for a state tournament berth. The Lady Pioneers will travel to Nitro to face the reigning Class AAA champion Lady Wildcats, who defeated Ripley 52-46 to capture the Region 4 Section 1 championship.
Wayne defeated Nitro 74-48 on Jan. 14 at Wayne High School as Addie Adkins scored 30 points and hit seven 3-pointers in the victory. The Lady Pioneers shot 71% from 3 in the contest connecting on 10 of 14 attempts.
Williamson said this meeting will be different with a state tournament berth on the line Tuesday night at Nitro.
“That will be an adjustment and hopefully we can go in there put our good foot forward and see what we can do,” Williamson said. “We did shoot the ball well in our gym that night, but we can’t go into that game thinking we are going to do the same thing.”
Logan improves to 21-2 and has won 11 straight games heading into Tuesday’s night contest with Ripley.
Logan and Ripley will meet for the third time this season. Logan has won both meetings with Ripley. The Lady Wildcats rallied from a 20-point deficit to defeat the Lady Vikings 72-66 on Dec. 28 at Ripley High School. Logan then defeated Ripley 55-35 on Feb. 5 at Willie Akers Arena.
Regardless of the outcome of those two meetings, Gertz said this time it is different, and that the Lady Wildcats will have to play a complete game to get back to Charleston.
“That means nothing. There are 16 teams remaining that are zero and zero, and somebody is going to win four straight and be a champion,” Gertz said. “Why not us? We want to keep playing because if we lose any game then we are done, so let’s win five more and then it will all be done.”
At Willie Akers Arena
Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 Championship
Logan 52, Wayne 38
Brooke Adkins 2-8 5-6 9, Jasmine Tabor 4-13 0-0 9, Mikayla Stacy 4-7 1-2 9, Laneigh Brooks 3-6 0-2 7, Addie Adkins 1-7 0-2 2, Eve Brown 1-2 0-0 2, Cheyenne Williams 0-0 0-2 0.
Totals: 15-43 6-14 38.
Peyton Ilderton 2-6 13-15 17, Natalie Blankenship 5-7 0-0 11, Halle Crouse 3-8 2-4 11,
Emma Elkins 2-3 1-2 6, Abbie Myers 2-4 0-0 5, Addyson Amick 1-3 0-0 2, Mika Dalton0-1 0-0 0.
Totals: 15-32 16-21 52.
Wayne 13 9 8 8- 38
Logan 10 10 8 24- 52
3-point field goals- Wayne 2-14 (Adkins, B. 0-2, Tabor 1-3, Stacy 0-2, Brooks 1-3, Adkins, A. 0-4), Logan 6-15 (Ilderton 0-2, Blankenship 1-2, Crouse 3-7, Elkins 1-1, Myers 1-1, Amick 0-1, Dalton 0-1). Rebounds- Wayne 22 (Adkins, B. 6), Logan 21 (Ilderton 8). Assists- Wayne 10 (Adkins, B. 5), Logan 11 (Ilderton 3, Myers 3). Total fouls- Wayne 19, Logan 11. Fouled out- Adkins, A. Technicals- None.