Something had to give in this one, right?
Entering Tuesday there were several storylines surrounding Logan and Wayne.
For one, the two schools were two of the hottest teams in Class AAA, if not the state of West Virginia.
Second, both schools were ranked in the top four of Class AAA and both schools had combined to win 31-of-35 games this season.
Third, both schools entered Tuesday night on a combined 18 game winning streak, Logan having won six straight since being defeated by Wayne, 49-39, on Jan. 19 at Willie Akers, while Wayne had won 12 straight since falling to Lawrence County (Tenn.), 64-40, in the Sonic Shootout in Sparta, Tenn.
Fourth, both schools entered one and two in the Cardinal Conference, Wayne was first with a 10-0 record and had a chance to lock up the conference crown with a victory, meanwhile Logan was in second with a conference record of 8-1 and needed wins over Wayne and Scott to share the crown.
Also, throw in the fact that Wayne had yet to lose a West Virginia school this season and was 13-0 against in state competition this season.
Finally, both teams were looking to make a case for the top seed in the upcoming sectional tournament with a victory over a ranked opponent.
The game lived up to expectations and in a battle of top four teams in Class AAA, it was fourth-ranked Logan defeating third-ranked Wayne 54-46 before a packed house at Wayne High School.
Peyton Ilderton led all scorers with 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Ilderton was also 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
Ilderton stepped up in the second half when Logan needed her the most, scoring 16 of her game-high 27 points in the third and fourth quarters.
Logan coach Kevin Gertz said that before Tuesday’s game, Ilderton received a phone call from Indiana University Graduate Manager and all-time Lady Wildcats leading scorer Shayna Gore.
“Shayna told her to just let the game come to her,” Gertz said. “She did and every day this is what people that don’t understand and that is that Peyton Ilderton doesn’t have to score 25 or 30 points for her to be the best player out there.”
In the first meeting on Jan. 19, Ilderton was held to 17 points but according to Wayne coach Wade Williamson said Logan’s ability to keep the lead and add to it creating more opportunities for Ilderton.
“They were able to spread us out a little bit and got us behind and force us to do some stuff that we didn’t want to do,” Williamson said. “They made her capable of doing what she wanted to do, and I think we could have played from the lead then I don’t think that happens as much.”
The victory was the latest resume builder for Logan, who made its case for the top seed in the Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 tournament and with it homecourt advantage in the tournament.
The Lady Wildcats improved to 17-2 with its seventh straight win. Logan split the season series with Wayne and has a pair of wins over Class AAA No. 7 Ripley, Class AA No. 10 Chapmanville and single wins over AAA No. 5 Nitro, AAA No. 10 Pikeview, AA No. 3 Wyoming East and Winfield, who was 10th in AAA at the time.
“In my opinion Logan and Wayne are two of the top three teams in the state. I have seen everybody, and I am not sure that we are not the two best teams in the state,” Gertz said. “I am not putting anybody down, but I just believe in our team that much as does Robert C. Byrd, as does North Marion as does Fairmont and as does Wayne.”
“We won, they won, we split,” Gertz said. “We are both two great teams and I think either one of us can win that state title.”
The victory for Logan was the first over Wayne since Jan. 2, 2010, when the Lady Wildcats defeated the Lady Pioneers 38-28 at Willie Akers Arena.
“It is a big win,” Gertz said.
Wayne saw its 12-game winning streak snapped and suffered its first loss of the season against in-state competition. Still the Lady Pioneers have a resume equally as impressive as Logan’s.
Wayne has a pair of wins over Chapmanville and have defeated Nitro, Winfield and Class AA No. 9 Charleston Catholic.
“Seeding is going to be interesting because we split with each other,” Williamson said. “We won by 10 at their place and they won by eight here and that is a dead heat anyway you look at it.”
“From this point forward, I guess it is going to be a popularity contest,” Williamson said. “I don’t know but we have to take care of what business we have left and see what we can do.”
The win Logan’s hopes alive for winning a share of the Cardinal Conference improving the Lady Wildcats to 9-1 in conference. The Lady Wildcats trail Wayne by a half game and can clinch a tie with a victory over Scott.
Logan and Scott have been postponed twice this season due to weather and Gertz is hopeful that the two sides can reschedule in the coming days.
“It’s not confirmed but they said they have the 14th open, and we need to play it and if they don’t want to play it then the conference needs to make the forfeit,” Gertz said. “It’s a shame that we have two great teams like this and because they won’t play us, and I hope they do, and we have just had bad luck trying to get that game rescheduled.”
“That day is open, and Lincoln County has said that they would move our game so we could play that,” Gertz said. “If we are lucky enough to beat Scott then we both should share this title and it is deserving.”
Despite the loss, the Lady Pioneers can do no worse than a share of the Cardinal Conference title after finishing conference play with a 10-1 record.
“Our kids don’t even know anything about it, and we haven’t talked about the Cardinal Conference at all,” Williamson said. “It’s always fun to win a conference, and that is big for us because we are young and it’s a good thing for us.”
Early on it looked as if Wayne was on its way to a 13th straight win as the Lady Pioneers jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 6:45 to play in the opening prompting Gertz to call a timeout.
Logan responded out of the timeout with an 8-1 run to tie the contest at 8 on Halle Crouse’s 13-foot jumper with 4:56 to play in the opening quarter before Wayne closed the first quarter on a 7-3 run to take a 15-11 lead after one quarter of play.
A Jasmine Tabor free throw with 6:28 to play in the second quarter gave Wayne a 20-14 lead but Logan closed the half on a 13-2 run to take a 27-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Wayne shot 60 percent (6-of-10) in the first quarter but shot just 21.4 percent (3-of-14) in the second quarter. For the half, Wayne shot 37.5 percent (9-of-24).
“We got some good looks, and we didn’t convert,” Williamson said. “When you do that against good teams you are going to lose.”
Logan started the third quarter on a 9-4 run to extend its margin to 36-26 on Crouse’s 3-pointer with 5:23 to play in the third quarter, Wayne wouldn’t go away as the Lady Pioneers closed out the quarter on a 13-7 run to trim the Lady Wildcats lead to 43-39.
The fourth quarter was a struggle for both schools as neither team scored for the first 4:13 of the quarter until Ilderton broke the ice with a driving layup with 3:47 to play in the fourth for the first basket for either team.
Wayne would try to mount a run but could get no closer than four points as the Lady Pioneers shot 14.3 percent (2-of-14). To complicate matters, Logan was able to knock down 8-of-9 free throw attempts to pull away in the fourth quarter.
After a 6-for-10 shooting performance from the field in the first quarter, Wayne only converted 9-of-35 attempts the rest of the way and was held to 46 points. The Lady Pioneers came into the contest, averaging 56.1 points per game.
Coming into the contest Gertz felt that if his Lady Wildcats could score 50 points that they would have an exceptionally good chance for a road victory.
“I have said this to everybody, and I am not bragging or nothing, but in my opinion, we are the best defensive team in the state,” Gertz said. “We held them to 46 and we don’t always score a boatload but we scored enough tonight.”
“Coming down all the coaches rode with me, and I said we got to get to 50,” Gertz said. “I said that nobody else is going to score 50 on us this year.”
Tabor led Wayne in scoring with 16 points and Mikayla Stacy added 12 for the Lady Pioneers.
In what could be a potential first round matchup in the Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 tournament, Wayne will host Lincoln County on Thursday.
The Lady Pioneers defeated the Lady Panthers, 55-34, on Jan. 26 at Lincoln County High School.
“It was close for a while until we stretched them out toward the end,” Williamson said. “I think with our youth we learn something every time out and we learn some lessons the hard way.”
“You got to come out, you got to be ready, and some other teams just want to beat you so bad,” Williamson said. “We got to learn to be able to execute in stretches and be ready to make tough shots at times.”
Crouse, a freshman, had 12 points to join Ilderton in double figures for Logan. Seniors Abbie Myers, eight points, and Emma Elkins, nine rebounds, played key roles in the Lady Wildcats victory.
Logan shot 38.5 percent (15-for-39) from the field including 8-of-15 from 3-point range and 16-of-19 from the foul line.
“We are built around our seniors, but we a few good juniors, we four excellent freshmen and a sophomore,” Gertz said. “We are old, experienced and young, and it’s a great blend.”
“Our freshmen are stepping up to play and they are freshmen no more,” Gertz said.
Logan will host Westside Thursday night at Willie Akers Arena. It will be senior night for the Lady Wildcats as before the game Elkins, Ilderton, Myers and Mika Dalton will be honored.
“Westside has struggled this year, but it is always a war with our two schools,” Gertz said. “I expect us to win, I hope we are not flat coming off this win, but they (Westside) are going to come out and play hard and they always do.”
“I want to finish out this season with three more wins and go in 20-2 and get ready for the sectionals,” Gertz said.
Logan 54, Wayne 46
Peyton Ilderton 8-13 8-9 27, Halle Crouse 4-6 1-2 12, Abbie Myers 2-8 2-2 8, Natalie Blankenship 1-3 2-2 4, Emma Elkins 0-3 2-2 2, Addyson Amick 0-1 1-2 1, Mika Dalton 0-4 0-0 0, Bam Mosby 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals: 15-39 16-19 54.
Jasmine Tabor 4-7 6-8 16, Mikayla Stacy 4-7 3-4 12, Brooke Adkins 3-6 1-2 8, Laneigh Brooks 3-11 0-1 7, Addie Adkins 1-11 0-0 3, Eve Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Cheyenne Williams 0-1 0-0 0.
Totals: 15-45 10-15 46.
Logan 11 16 16 11- 54
Wayne 15 7 17 7- 46
3-point field goals- Logan 8-15 (Ilderton 3-4, Crouse 3-5, Myers 2-5, Dalton 0-1), Wayne 6-18 (Tabor 2-4, Stacy 1-3, Adkins 1-2, Brooks 1-4, Adkins 1-4, Brown 0-1). Rebounds- Logan 24 (Elkins 9), Wayne 27 (Adkins, A. 14). Assists- Logan 9 (Elkins 3), Wayne 7 (Tabor 4). Total fouls- Logan 13, Wayne 20. Fouled out- Stacy. Technical fouls- Williamson.