by Beau Wicker
KOKOMO — Kokomo’s girls basketball team tried to slow down high-scoring Logansport on Saturday.
The Wildkats’ zone defense worked wonders in the first quarter, but once the Berries’ shots started falling, they showed just how tough they can be to beat.
The Berries broke open a close game with a huge run to end the first half and start the second to catapult them to a 62-34 win at Memorial Gym. The Berries (3-0 overall) were able to begin the defense of their North Central Conference title with a blowout win.
Kokomo coach Jason Snyder described Logan’s offensive onslaught as a “buzzsaw.” The Berries closed the second half with a 7-0 run over the final 1:45 to take a 24-17 lead into halftime. They then outscored the Kats 20-4 in the third quarter to push the lead to 44-21. The lead got as big as 60-28 with two minutes remaining.
“It’s a group that can put 10 points on you in a hurry. It’s an outstanding team, very well coached,” Snyder said. “I told everybody that’s been watching, they have everything you need. This is a team that can battle for a state championship, it really is.”
Whitney Jennings led Logan with 23 points on 9 of 19 shooting. She hit a pair of NBA-range 3-pointers. The first got her going after a cold start that gave Logan a 15-12 midway through the second quarter, and the second one made it 56-25 with 3:35 to go in the game.
Rachel Jennings added 16 points, and Nakeya Penny had eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
The Berries entered having defeated their first three opponents — Lafayette Central Catholic, McCutcheon and Maconaquah — by an average margin of victory of 46.7 points.
But the Wildkats held them to four points in the first quarter on 1 of 10 shooting from the field to lead 7-4 after one. They had the game tied at 17-all with less than two minutes to go in the first half.
But the Kats shot just 29.3 percent from the field for the game including 3 of 16 from the 3-point line.
“I thought we ran our game plan, did a nice job. The end of the second quarter, they go on that run,” Snyder said. “Now we’re going into the halftime down, where we really controlled the first half. We had to change a couple things up, they took advantage of it.
“I thought our girls played hard, we cut down on our turnovers, we did a decent job on the boards. It’s a very good team.”
Jasmine Love had eight points and Brayana Fowler added seven to lead Kokomo (1-1, 0-1 NCC).
A Kiley Victor basket on an assist by Madyson Price got the Berries’ run started to end the first half. Whitney Jennings had a field goal and a three-point play to close the half to give Logan a seven-point lead at the break.
The Berries opened the second half with a 10-0 run that all of a sudden put the Wildkats down 34-17. Whitney Jennings started it with a jumper off a Seanna Redman screen, Rachel Jennings then buried a 3 on an assist by Whitney Jennings, Redman followed with a 3-point dagger and Penny scored on an assist by Whitney Jennings to cause Snyder to call a timeout.
“We told them if we just got a few stops in a row that we would be able to turn the game around and would be able to get going,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “We got four or five stops at the beginning of the second half which in essence turned the game around because we scored on every possession of those five stops.”
As for the slow start, Hoover said, “We just had trouble getting going. Once we got a little momentum, it just kept going.”
Last season Kokomo was able to narrow the gap from a 17-point loss to Logan in the regular season to a 3-point loss in sectional play. The Wildkats now have a 28-point margin to try to make up over the next three months.
“The rest of the field is going to get better and better, and we’ve got to make sure we get better,” Hoover said. “So far we have.”
The Berries get a break and won’t return to action until the Cass County Tournament, where they will face Cass at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 28.