by Beau Wicker
Logansport girls basketball coach Jerry Hoover cherishes each and every win in North Central Conference play.
“In all honestly, just winning in the NCC, just being 4-3 in the NCC, is tough,” he said. “I remember one year we went down to New Castle and we hadn’t won a game and we were 0-6 and we beat New Castle, and we were so gosh dang happy coming home on the bus we didn’t know what to do. That was with [Kaitlin] Greiner and [Amy] Clem, they were the captains [in 2005].”
The difficulty of winning basketball games in the NCC makes the Berries’ current run of success that much more impressive. The Class 4A No. 4 Berries (19-1, 6-0 NCC) enter Friday’s game at New Castle (6-12, 1-5) with a chance at running the table in league play for the second straight year.
The Berries have won 13 conference games in a row and 18 of their last 19. They’ve gone 38-10 in league play over the last seven years for a 79.2 winning percentage, and they’re 127-31 overall during that time for an 80.4 winning percentage.
Hoover did note the NCC has been pretty young overall the last two seasons. All 13 of the Berries’ league wins the last two years have been by double digits.
“We’ve had a good team, and I think maybe the NCC might have been down a bit during that period of time,” he said.
The Berries’ opponent on Friday, New Castle, is a young squad. Hoover said five of the Trojans’ top 10 players are freshmen.
“They could possibly win the NCC next year,” he said. “They’re a really good team. They’ve been right in every game and have let a lot of games slip away.”
The Berries are loaded with talent and experience this season. Hoover said he thinks all four seniors on the roster — Rachel Jennings, Kiley Victor, Madyson Price and Seanna Redman — will have an opportunity to play college basketball next year. Junior Whitney Jennings has already verbally committed to play at Iowa. Hoover thinks junior Krista Kyyroenen will be recruited out of Europe when she returns to her home country of Finland. Hoover added that sophomore Nakeya Penny will also play college ball.
Hoover said he can’t even remember how many college basketball players he’s produced in his 11 years at Logansport, and that’s not including players that have had opportunities to play at a small school but chose not to.
“A lot. I can’t even name them all,” he said. “[Lindsay] Rich is playing well at Franklin. Jasmine [Penny] is leading the Big East in field-goal percentage and leading DePaul in scoring. LeAnn Hileman is on the roster at St. Francis. She’s about like me at Purdue, she’s clear on the end of the bench, but anyways, she’s getting that experience.”
Hoover said Logansport being an NCC member school has helped his players land so many college scholarships.
“I love the conference. The conference is so important to Logansport basketball as far as I’m concerned because it is a great recruiting tool. When you’re talking to a college coach and you remind them that you’re in the NCC and you remind them that New Castle, Richmond, Kokomo, Anderson and Muncie Central are in your league, they don’t get off the phone. They stay on the phone because they know that somebody who’s competing in that league is going to be able to compete with them at the next level.”
The Berries are coming off an 83-27 win at Twin Lakes Tuesday in which Whitney Jennings recorded a quadruple-double of historic proportions against a 10-win Indians squad. She had 40 points, 12 assists, 12 steals and 10 rebounds in the contest. She was 17 of 25 from the field (68 percent).
She is averaging 25.2 points, 8.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game for the season.
Rachel Jennings missed the Twin Lakes game due to illness and the Berries are hoping to have her back for New Castle. She is averaging 15.2 ppg and is a prolific 57 of 124 from 3-point range (46 percent) on the season.
Nakeya Penny is averaging 13.4 ppg and 6.5 rpg. Victor averages 5.1 ppg and 7.6 rpg, and Price adds 4.6 ppg.