Heading into the new basketball season the Logan High School Wildcats knew there would be some rebuilding to do.
It’s not easy losing your top scorer, a guy like Stevie Browning, who averaged 25 points a game and is now playing collegiately at Fairmont State.
Logan also lost second-leading scorer, Keaton Johnson, to graduation.
Third-leading scorer Da’jon Streeter transferred to a school in Nevada and is no longer a member of the Wildcats.
Also graduated are several key role players from last year’s squad.
Gone is 80 percent of Logan’s scoring.
That’s not easy to overcome.
Others will have to step forward and do so quickly in order for the Wildcats to have success this season.
Logan went through some predicted growing pains in Tuesday night’s opener as the Wildcats lost 67-60 at home to Hurricane at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
Logan (0-1) trailed the Redskins (1-0) by as many as 13 points in the first half but the scrappy Wildcats rallied in the third and fourth quarters.
In the end, it wasn’t enough as Hurricane went home victorious.
Logan struggled offensively, missing a few layups and short bunnies. The Wildcats were particularly poor at the free throw line as Logan could only hit on 4-of-12 foul shots for 33.3 percent. Five of those misses were critical in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats tried to chip away at Hurricane’s lead. The Redskins weren’t much better at the foul stripe as Hurricane was 14-for-24 for only 58 percent.
“I was real surprised by our performance. It seemed like we were slow and didn’t play with much effort,” Logan coach Mark Hatcher said. “In the first half I thought that we might be a little bit scared. It looked like we were an inexperienced team and we weren’t ready to go. We didn’t look like that in the two scrimmages.”
C.J. Williams led Logan with 16 points. He hit two 3-pointers on the night. A.J. Reynolds had 13 and Z. Minnick 10. Chase Preston and Worm Street each had eight points. Preston hit two 3s on the night. Trent Dalton rounded out the scoring with five points.
John Dawson, Hurricane’s 6-0 sophomore guard, led the Skins with 21 points. Rasaan Harris had 13 and Henry Sorsaia 12.
Hurricane led Logan 14-7 after one quarter, 32-21 at the half and 54-43 after three and looked to put away the Cats in the fourth.
Logan, though, made a run at the Skins.
The Wildcats cut it to 60-52 with 2:28 left as Street scored on a bucket in the paint after a nice feed from Dalton.
Hurricane then tried to milk some of the clock. Ian Miles was eventually hacked with 1:55 to go and nailed a pair of foul shots to make it 62-52.
Then it was Reynolds who drove to the lane with 1:46 to go and scored another hoop in the paint 23 seconds later to cut Hurricane’s lead down to 62-56.
With 1:16 to go, Logan had a golden opportunity as Harris was whistled for a technical foul. Logan’s Preston, however, clanged both technical foul free throws off the rim. Logan got the ball back on the possession and Reynolds was fouled with 1:09 left. He could only manage a split, however, as Hurricane’s lead was trimmed to 62-57.
Hurricane appeared to put the game away with 29 ticks left as Dawson scored on a layup to make it 65-57.
Williams, though, canned a 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds remaining, cutting Hurricane’s advantage to 65-60 and keeping the Cats in the game.
Harris was fouled by Logan with 18 seconds left and hit both free throws to finally put the win on ice.
“We played harder in the second half,” Hatcher said. “In the third quarter we played very well but we gave up seven offensive rebounds in the first quarter, two in the second quarter and eight in the fourth. The offensive rebounds killed us. During the game they beat us 39-37 on the boards. That’s pretty close and it’s usually good enough for us to compete. In the first quarter I thought that we played pretty good defense but they got offensive rebounds it seemed like on every missed shot.”
Hatcher said the Cats must do better at the free throw line.
“That’s bad and it’s been bad all fall,” Hatcher said. “But it was the first game for a lot of our guys. There’s not a lot of experience out there.”
Logan will look to get its first win of the season on Friday night as Berwick (Pa.) makes the long journey to southern West Virginia to take on the Wildcats in a 7:30 p.m. contest. Berwick High School, located in northeast Pennsylvania, is coached by former Scott High School mentor Jason Kingery. The former coach of the Skyhawks had led Scott to the state tournament before leaving to his new job in the Keystone State.
Berwick, nicknamed the Bulldogs, is known throughout the state for its powerhouse football program, which has won the Pennsylvania state championship six times and has been ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today on three different occasions.
Berwick High School has some famous alumni, including former NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jimmy Spencer, aka “Mr. Excitement,” and former 1990s Notre Dame and NFL quarterback Ron Powlus. Five other former Berwick graduates have gone on to play professionally in football, basketball, baseball and golf.
“They are supposed to be really good. That’s Coach Kingery’s team,” Hatcher said of Friday’s opponent, Berwick. “They are supposed to be strong and real athletic, so we’ll have our work cut out for us for sure.”