CHARLESTON — It’s been four days since the West Virginia girls’ high school basketball tournament ended and the accomplishments of the Logan Lady Cats are just now sinking in.
Sure, it was a big disappointment for the Logan High School girl to lose 58-34 in Saturday night’s Class AAA state championship game at the Charleston Civic Center.
But it was surely a good run for the Lady Cats.
Many thought Logan wouldn’t even make it there.
Way back in the Class AAA sectional tourney opener, Logan faced a tough task with a first-round matchup against No. 3-ranked Huntington.
It was win or go home and unranked Logan passed the test with a 78-70 victory on Huntington’s home floor.
After a narrow 68-67 loss to No. 2-ranked Spring Valley in the sectional finals, Logan had another tough assignment — playing St. Albans on its home floor in the region co-championship game.
Logan also passed that test with a 57-46 victory over the Red Dragons to advance to the state tourney for only the fourth time in school history and for the first time in 13 years.
Then came the state tournament.
The fifth-seeded Lady Cats began the 3A state tourney last Thursday with a first-round matchup against fourth seed Princeton and McKenzie Akers.
It was perceived to be a toss-up.
A coin flip.
But Logan also passed that test with a 77-66 victory over the Tigers behind the 36-point effort of sophomore guard Shayna Gore and the 18-point, 17-rebound game from freshman center Monica Mitchell.
Another hurdle passed.
Then came the state semifinal game with Spring Valley last Friday in a rematch of the sectional championship game.
The Lady Cats won in dramatic fashion as senior guard Hannah Tothe took a feed from Gore and drilled a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to lift the Lady Cats to a 52-49 upset victory over the stunned Lady Wolves.
After that test was passed, Logan found itself in Saturday night’s finals but came up short.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “They are not going to realize for two or three weeks what they have accomplished. To see what our seniors played in front of their freshman year and to see what they have played in front of right now is very special.”
Logan and Parkersburg South could be seeing each other in next year’s state tournament.
With Gore and Mitchell back along with sophomores Kyra Cline, Hannah Adkins and Summer Collins and others, Logan will be strong next year. South is also young, featuring sophomore guard Keya Barlett and freshmen Taryn McCutcheon and Katelyn Byrd.
Could there be another Logan-South rematch in 2014?
“I hope so,” Gertz said. “We are not in each other’s region and we’re not in each other’s section. For us to play them again that means that we would be playing again on this floor. I made this statement before the game and I made this statement at halftime … I want them to relish this. The thing that I wanted them to know was to not quit. They only guarantee from tonight’s game was that it was the last time that number 3 (Hannah Tothe), number 10 (Rachelle Toppings), number 4 (Amanda Williamson), number 32 (Katie Kirk), number 34 (Jenna Kimler) and number 41 (Kelsey Kirk) would ever play on this floor. There’s no guarantee that we will be back. Relish this. I’m so proud of them.”
Logan finished the season 17-10 and entered the state tourney as a battle-tested team. The Lady Cats faced one of the most difficult schedules in the state, including home-and-homes against Greenbrier East — a team which was shockingly upset by nine-win Capital in the regional tourney and never made it to Charleston.
“My kids played hard. I’m so proud of them,” Gertz said. “Nobody expected us to be in the state tournament much less to be in the state finals. It’s unbelievable. We lost 10 games and usually teams like that don’t make it to the state finals. Our schedule was tough and I will stack it up against anybody in the state. We played six of the top seven teams. Nobody else can say that. Every day that we came out they worked hard. We’re not the most talented team and we’re not the most athletic team. I joke with them all the time that I’m the best athlete on the team but I love this team. They play hard and they play together.”
Gertz said playing in the state finals will do wonders in the long term for his program.
“All this is going to do is to get girls more energized,” he said. “This will get the girls 5, 6 and 7 years old, our middle school kids and our high school kids more energized. We have some outstanding young athletes in our school that didn’t play. But that’s their loss. They could have been here. I’m proud of the girls that did play. We’ll be back. I don’t know if they will be back here but they will be back. I’m going to miss our seniors to death.”