Logan's Natalie Blankenship (1) and Addyson Amick (3) double team Lincoln County's Elizabeth Blankenship (00) during second half action of the Lady Wildcats loss in the Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 tournament at the Willie Akers Arena (Photo by Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography).
Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
LOGAN A stunning late rally by Lincoln County and fourth quarter shooting woes had Lady Pathers fans in a frenzy and left fans of the Lady Wildcats shocked inside the Willie Akers Arena on Wednesday evening.
Lincoln County erased a six-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Class AAA No. 10 Logan 36-33 in the Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 tournament.
The Lady Panthers fourth quarter rally eliminated the reigning Class AAA champion from postseason play. Logan along with reigning Class AA champion Parkersburg Catholic was eliminated in the opening round of the sectional tournament.
“Last year they lived the highest of the highs, and tonight they lived the lowest of the lowest in athletics in high school athletics,” Gertz said. “To win your final game, and there is only four teams to win their final game and the other 100 and how many other schools there are in this state lose their final game.”
Logan was held to one field goal in the fourth quarter while going 1 of 9 from the free throw line in the fourth and was 3 of 15 from the charity stripe in the second half while Lincoln County made five field goals in the fourth quarter.
“There is the difference, and there is all kinds of things, but if we make half of those we win by three,” Gertz said. “If you make 6 out of 12, that is not very good foul shooting, but it is a lot better than 1 for 9, and it is not like they were going up there and trying to miss because you got people who have knocked free throws down all year and it didn’t happen tonight.”
“It was a snowball effect and some of them at the end were sophomores, but guess what? They are going to learn from that coming back and they are going to be juniors next year,” Gertz said. “They are going to hate this feeling, but I know they are going to work their tails off in the offseason to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Lincoln County, who trailed 29-23 after three quarters, used a 7-1 run and pulled even, 30-30, on Maci Lunsford’s third 3-pointer of the second half with 3:22 to play in the fourth quarter.
Kaden Peters scored with 51 seconds remaining to give the Lady Panthers a 32-30 lead, its first lead since 6:20 to play in the second quarter.
Logan’s Autumn Adkins knocked down a 3, her third triple of the evening, to give Logan a 33-32 lead with 38 seconds remaining.
Sixteen seconds later, Alyssa Adkins hit what proved to the game winner, knocking down a long two-point jumper from just inside the 3-point line with 22 seconds remaining giving Lincoln County a 34-33 lead.
Halle Crouse missed a 3 with 12 seconds left and two fouls and four seconds later Gracie Clay knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Lady Panthers a 36-33 lead with eight seconds to play.
Natalie Blankenship got a good look at a potential tying 3-pointer, but her shot hit the back iron and fell into the arms of Peters as time expired.
“I am proud of my kids they played hard every night, but I think they let the moment get to them a little bit this year and that is all part of growing up, all part of learning to be an adult,” Gertz said. “They are not adults, they are kids, even our seniors and I am going to miss them a lot.”
Three seniors, Adkins, Blankenship and Rylee Conn, played their final game in a Logan High School uniform. Adkins, who shared team-high scoring honors with Crouse, finished with nine points while Blankenship and Conn each finished with four points.
“Natalie Blankenship has been a leader all year long, Autumn Adkins super leader all year long, made a couple of 3’s to get us jumpstarted early,” Gertz said. “Rylee Conn came in and a did super job and has really played huge the last couple of weeks. I am going to miss the daylights out of them.”
Lincoln County improved to 6-16 and avenged a pair of regular season losses to Logan. The Lady Panthers, who were defeated by Wayne in the sectional championship on Friday evening, will travel to Ripley on March 1.
“This is a tough one, Gary Mullins and I talked about it, but it is hard to beat a team three times in a row,” Gertz said. “We had our chances, but we didn’t capitalize and that is athletics.”
Logan defeated Lincoln County 58-53 on Jan. 30 at Lincoln County High School and followed that win with a 42-36 win at Logan on Feb. 13.
Gertz compared the season ending loss to that of the Logan boys basketball loss to Woodrow Wilson in the 1990 Class AAA semifinals.
Logan, who was nationally ranked by USA Today, had defeated Woodrow Wilson twice during the regular season, but lost to the Flying Eagles 92-64 in the semifinals in Charleston.
“Greatest team that I have ever seen in Logan, and they didn’t win a championship,” Gertz said. “They played Woodrow Wilson twice in the regular season and beat them twice but had a chance both games to beat them by 20-plus and it ended up being six or eight for different reasons.”
“This reminded me of that, and we had chances to put them away in the regular season twice, and we won twice, but we didn’t put them away and it gave them hope,” Gertz said. “If we could have beat them by 14 or 16 at Lincoln County then done the same thing here, then they are thinking oh God we got to go back and get it again.”
Logan jumped out to a 7-0 lead following Addyson Amick’s jumper with 4:38 to play in the opening quarter. Lincoln County got on the scoreboard with 4:13 remaining when Peters hit a long two to cut the deficit to 7-2.
Crouse’s 3 gave Logan a 10-4 lead before Lincoln County scored the next four points to pull to within 10-8 after one quarter of play.
The Lady Panthers extended the run to 8-0 after a pair of Clay free throws gave them a 12-10 lead with 6:20 remaining. The lead, the first of the contest for the Lady Panthers, would be short lived as Logan scored the next nine points and took a 19-12 lead on Conn’s layup with 3:38 to play before halftime.
Peters hit a runner with 48 seconds before halftime to bring Lincoln County within two, 19-17. Neither team would score in the final seconds as Logan took a two-point advantage to the locker room at halftime.
Logan scored the first four points of the third quarter and led 23-17 on Crouse’s jumper with 6:29 to play in the third. Lunsford hit back-to-back 3’s, her second 3 cut the deficit to two points, 25-23, with 4:35 to play.
Logan scored the final four points of the third quarter and took a 29-23 lead into the final quarter, however the Lady Wildcats were unable to put the Lady Panthers away and were outscored 13-4 in the final quarter.
“It is little things that win or lose tight ball games, it does it in baseball,” Gertz said. “Don’t make the crucial error, don’t walk the crucial guy. Here don’t turn it over when you got the lead, knock down foul to expand leads, and we didn’t do that now we are going home early.”
Peters led Lincoln County with 10 points while Lunsford finished with nine and Clay and Hayden Moore each had six points for the Lady Panthers.
Logan, who losses just three seniors but welcomes a promising incoming freshmen class next season, finished the year at 11-12.
“We got 11 kids returning and an awful lot of good basketball players returning,” Gertz said. “It is going to be hard for a few days and then it will be time to turn around and get to work again.”
“It is not what we dreamed of, but that may be some numbers I hang in our locker room for inspiration in the future,” Gertz said.
Lincoln County 36, Logan 33
Lincoln County (6-16)
Blankenship 1 1-2 3, Clay 1 4-4 6, Lunsford 3 0-0 9, Adkins 1 0-1 2, Moore 3 0-0 6, Peters 5 0-0 10. Totals: 14 5-7 36
Blankenship 2 0-3 4, Amick 1 0-2 2, Crouse 2 5-8 9, Adkins 3 0-0 9, Mosby 2 1-6 5, Conn 2 0-2 4. Totals: 12 6-21 33.
Lincoln County 8 9 6 13- 36
Logan 10 9 10 4- 33
3-point field goals_Lincoln County 3 (Lunsford 3), Logan 3 (Adkins 3).