Princeton had Logan right where it wanted the Wildcats.
The Tigerettes trailed in their Class AAA state quarterfinal game by three points, 54-51, with 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter, when Logan standout sophomore guard Shayna Gore went to the bench with her fourth foul.
It was a golden opportunity. Gore had scored 36 points — more than half Logan's total — and her absence would seemingly cripple its offense.
Instead, it was Princeton’s attack that died, and the Wildcats rolled to a 77-66 win.
“Sometimes the shots don’t drop,” coach Debbie Ball said. “Their shots did.”
Princeton, playing with a huge size deficit, battled Logan to a 34-all draw in the first half. The Tigerettes had nailed six 3-point goals and looked on their way to breaking Bridgeport’s AAA state record of 12.
Not only that, they were often beating the Wildcats at their own game, rebounding.
“We had shot 52 percent from the floor and Princeton shot 31 percent, and yet it was tied,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “They were all guards, but they had 10 defensive rebounds.
“I didn’t know if we could continue to shoot the ball that well. I told them if we wanted to win the game, we had to win the defensive rebounds.”
Logan did just that, controlling the boards. But it was after Gore went out that the Wildcats, surprisingly, took over the game.
Princeton’s 3-pointers quit falling. Worse still, its layups on the fast break wouldn’t go in either.
Meanwhile, Logan’s other guard, Hannah Tothe, hit a 3 and three quick foul shots, and 6-foot-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell, established control underneath the basket.
The Wildcats went on a 13-3 run to open the fourth quarter.
“We were overwhelmed by the atmosphere,” standout guard and Marshall signee Mackenzie Akers said. “But we're a never-dying team. We wanted to get back in it.”
Princeton fought back. Akers scored on the break, hit a 3 and then stole the ball and took it in to make it 70-64 with 1:53 left in the game.
But the Tigerettes’ shooting suddenly went cold again, and Logan hit 7 of 12 foul shots down the stretch to seal the victory.
“Logan’s a good team, and Gore’s a good player,” Ball said. “We’ve had problems with big teams, but we still managed to pull them out.
“It was their day, not our day.”
Akers scored 17 points and had nine assists and three steals. Hannah Preservati also scored 17 points.
Preservati played most of the season with a torn ACL — her second with that knee.
“It's been rough. I had to change a lot of my game,” she said. “But I'm glad I was allowed to play. I'm thankful my teammates picked up the slack.”
Jessica Inman scored 12 points, Marissa Mullins had 10 and Khadija Payne added 10 rebounds, four assists and six points.
The Tigerettes finished with 10 3s, including four by Akers.
“We beat a heck of a ball club,” Gertz said. “Akers is one of the top four AAA players and we held her eight or nine points under her average. She scored 17 and it took her 30 shots to do it.”
Gore, one of the taller guards around at 5-11, finished with 36 points. Mitchell had 18 points and 17 rebounds, and Tothe scored 11 points.
It was the first state tournament win for the Wildcats under Gertz.
“It means a lot. I've got some phenomenal players,” he said.
Logan (16-9) will play top seed Spring Valley at 5:30 p.m. today in the semifinal.
Princeton concludes its year at 19-6.
“We've had a few games where we shot 28 percent, but we've been able to pull them out,” Ball said.
“This was a very special group. They were a never-die team, and they've been that way since I've been coaching them.”
— E-mail: dstillwell
Tothe 2-5 6-8 11, Toppings 3-3 0-0 6, Gore 12-21 9-16 36, Cline 1-2 0-0 3, Mitchell 8-13 2-5 18, Collins 0-1 1-2 1, Williamson 0-0 0-0 0, Ward 0-0 0-0 0, Napier 0-0 0-0 0, Kolovich 0-0 0-0 0, Adkins 0-0 0-0 0, Spry 0-0 0-0 0, Ka.Kirk 0-0 0-0 0, Kimler 0-0 2-2 2, Ke.Kirk 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-46 20-33 77.
Akers 6-30 4-8 17, Mullins 4-11 0-0 10, Payne 3-10 0-2 6, Preservati 6-13 0-0 17, Surface 0-4 2-2 2, Inman 4-12 2-2 12, Culicerto 0-1 0-0 0, Snow 0-0 0-0 0, Lambert 1-2 0-2 2, Hamm 0-0 0-0 0, Barker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-83 8-16 66.
Logan 19 15 20 23—77
Princeton 16 18 17 15—66
3-Point Goals—Logan 5-10 (Gore 3-5, Cline 1-2, Tothe 1-3), Princeton 10-31 (Preservati 5-10, Mullins 2-6, Inman 2-8, Akers 1-6, Lambert 0-1). Fouled Out—Akers, Mullins. Rebounds—Logan 45 (Mitchell 17), Princeton 44 (Payne 10). Assists—Logan 11 (Gore, Mitchell 3), Princeton 19 (Akers 9). Total Fouls—Logan 17, Princeton 20. A—na.
Princeton had Logan right where it wanted the Wildcats.
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