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Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
CHARLESTON, WVa Points were at a premium in Saturday’s Class AAA state championship final at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Top-ranked Fairmont Senior and second-ranked Logan struggled from the field in the first as both schools combined to shoot 6-of-36 from the field in the first half, turn the ball over 24 times and score 15 points.
The second-ranked Lady Wildcats (25-2), who led 3-2 after one quarter and 8-7 at halftime, overcame a six-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat top-ranked Fairmont Senior (25-2), 27-26, to capture the first ever girls basketball state championship in the history of Logan High School.
“I was talking to some people at halftime, we were joking that that set basketball back 75 years, but it didn’t,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “It put the spotlight on two of the greatest defenses in the state, and everyone was up in everyone’s face.”
“It may not have been the most beautiful game of basketball,” Gertz said. “But when you get the two best defenses in the state in all classes playing for a title that is what it looks like.”
With the game tied at 22, Fairmont Senior’s Marley Washenitz hit a 3 to put the Polar Bear up 25-22 with 2:24 to play.
Washenitz, the two-time Ostrowski Award winner, went over 2,000 points for her career at Fairmont.
A pair of free throws from senior Peyton Ilderton brought the Lady Wildcats to within one, 25-24, with 2:04 to play.
Laynie Beresford was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws to put Fairmont up 26-24 with 1:27 remaining.
Ilderton then came up with the play that will forever be remembered in the lore of Logan girls basketball history as she drove the lane scoring on a layup and drawing a foul on Washenitz with 1:12 to play.
Ilderton stepped to the free throw line and calmly sank the free throw giving Logan a 27-26 lead.
The foul proved to be costly for Fairmont Senior as Washenitz picked up her fifth foul and was disqualified from the contest.
“I knew she had four fouls and that it would be a different game if she fouled out,” Ilderton said. “They told me to take it to her, and I did, and she fouled me.”
Washenitz finished with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field to go along with six rebounds.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Logan and Peyton Ilderton, I have played ball with her since sixth grade, so I am proud of her and how her team finished,” Washenitz said. “That is something that we wanted too, and it wasn’t going to come easy to us, it’s the state championship, it shouldn’t be easy.”
Fairmont Senior had its chances in the final 1:12, but the Polar Bears turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, but Logan was unable to capitalize as Ilderton missed the front end of a one-and-one twice, giving the Polar Bears one last chance, but Laynie Beresford’s 3-pointer was off the mark as time expired, sending the Logan faithful, which Gertz estimated to be around 90 percent of the Coliseum attendance, into a frenzy.
“I want to thank everybody that came down to support us, and there were Logan fans everywhere,” Gertz said. “The weather was god awful, and I am seeing former players here.”
“Hannah Tothe, who hit the biggest shot in Logan High School history when she hit the 3 in the semifinals against Spring Valley (2013) to get us to the championship, was here,” Gertz said. “I am so proud that the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year and Indiana University Graduate Assistant Coach Shayna Gore, drove from Bloomington just to see these kids play.”
Trailing 8-7 at halftime, Fairmont Senior, who shot 3-of-19 from the field in the first half, connected on 4-of-11 attempts in the third quarter to outscore Logan 12-5 and take a 19-13 lead after three quarters closing the quarter on a 6-0 run after the Lady Wildcats had tied it at 13.
Momentum appeared to be on the Polar Bears side, but Logan answered with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take a 20-19 lead on Halle Crouse’s 3-pointer with 4:15 to play.
“I was nervous the whole first half,” Crouse said. “After I hit that shot, I calmed myself down, and I was able to pull through.”
Logan was able to knock down 5-of-10 attempts from the field in the fourth quarter while limiting Fairmont Senior to 2-of-8 shooting in the quarter.
Fairmont Senior turned the ball over 20 times compared to 14 turnovers for Logan. The Lady Wildcats only turned the ball over twice in the second half.
“Too many turnovers at the end of the game, and it really cost us not being able to adapt with the way the game was being called,” Fairmont Senior coach Corey Hines said. “We still had our opportunities and that’s all you want is an opportunity, and we had several opportunities to win that game.”
Both, Fairmont Senior and Logan, shot 9-of-38 from the field and both made two 3’s, but the difference was at the foul line where Fairmont Senior was 6-of-10 while Logan was 7-of-12 with all seven free throws coming from Ilderton, who was 7-of-11 from the line.
"I didn’t know if we were going to score enough to do it,” Gertz said. “We were hoping to have a game in the 50s, maybe the 40s. Thank God it was in the 20s because now we are state champions because of our defense.”
Meredith Maier finished with six points and a game-high 14 rebounds for Fairmont Senior, who saw its 12-game winning streak snapped.
It was the second straight title game loss for the Polar Bears, who lost to Nitro 51-45 in the 2021 title game.
“This team has exceeded everybody’s expectations,” Hines said. “They have been to Charleston every year, and they done what they were supposed to do, sometimes you are not going to get the victory at the end, but they started on the first and finished on the last every year they have been in school.”
Ilderton finished with a game-high 13 points and finishes her Logan career with 1,899 career points.
“I am so proud of this, we have worked so hard,” Ilderton said. “I have put in so much work in the past four years and for it to finally pay off in my last game of high school is unbelievable.”
Logan won its first 10 games of the season but dropped the next two before closing the year winning 15 consecutive games.
“We got a trophy sitting in my office, and I get asked why it is sitting there, but as proud as I am of the first runner up, I am not putting it in the trophy case,” Gertz said. “That trophy case when you come into the field house is for champions. Monday morning my team is going to put that trophy with the net from this game in that trophy case.”
At Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center
Class AAA Championship
Logan 27, Fairmont Senior 26
Natalie Blankenship 1-6 0-1 2, Abbie Myers 1-3 0-0 2, Halle Crouse 3-12 0-0 8, Peyton Ilderton 3-13 7-11 13, Emma Elkins 1-3 0-0 2, Bam Mosby 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 9-38 7-12 27.
Fairmont Senior (25-2)
Laynie Beresford 0-6 3-6 3, Emily Starn 1-8 0-0 2, Marley Washenitz 4-12 3-4 12, Camryn Morgan 0-1 0-0 0, Meredith Maier 3-8 0-0 6, Claria Hager 1-3 0-0 3. Totals: 9-38 6-10 26.
Logan 3 5 5 14- 27
Fairmont Senior 2 5 12 7- 26
3-point field goals- Logan 2-9 (Blankenship 0-2, Crouse 2-6, Ilderton 0-1), Fairmont Senior 2-13 (Beresford 0-2, Starn 0-5, Washenitz 1-2, Maier 0-1, Hager 1-3). Rebounds- Logan 26 (Crouse 7), Fairmont Senior 37 (Maier 14). Assists- Logan 5 (Blankenship 2, Myers 2), Fairmont Senior 6 (Starn 3). Total fouls- Logan 14, Fairmont Senior 16. Fouled out- Washenitz. Technical fouls- None.
2021-22 Class AAA All-Tournament Team
Natalie Blankenship, Logan
Laynie Beresford, Fairmont Senior
Halle Crouse, Logan
Peyton Ilderton, Logan
Merdedith Maier, Fairmont Senior
Hannah Perdue, Pikeview
Olivia Toland, North Marion
Marley Washinetz, Fairmont Senior