KOKOMO — For the second straight game Logansport’s boys basketball team went toe-to-toe against one of the state’s best teams for 32 minutes.
And for the second straight game the Berries came up just short.
Logan was defeated by Class 4A No. 6 Kokomo 58-52 Thursday night in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute.
In the last two games Logan has been edged by the defending Class 4A state runner-up, Kokomo, and a team that entered ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, Muncie Central, but the Berries are now 9-7 and 1-4 in the North Central Conference.
“Hopefully we can get over the hump here one of these days,” Logan coach Mark Victor said. “You can’t take anything away from Kokomo, they do a lot of things well, they don’t have very many weaknesses, maybe we’ll see them again.”
Logan had to climb out of holes against Kokomo (17-3, 5-1) not once, not twice but three times and was able to do so.
The Wildkats came out on fire on senior night and jumped out to a 12-4 lead about five minutes in. But Jarod Schrock scored back-to-back times in the post, once on a challenging reverse layup, and later corralled a loose ball and got an assist from his knees to Cam Biggs for a layup with five seconds left in the first quarter. Antonio Penny then came up with a quick steal and score right before the horn to bring Logan to within 16-14 after one.
Kokomo then opened the second quarter with a big run and led as much as 32-19 before two Penny free throws made it 32-21 at halftime.
“The second quarter just really hurt us,” Victor said. “We didn’t execute very well offensively and we didn’t slow them down very well defensively.”
The Berries were throttled by the Kats in last year’s sectional final, but on Thursday they responded to the Kats’ big second quarter run with one of their own to start the third quarter. They opened the quarter with a 13-2 run to tie the game at 34-all midway in, and Logan had all the momentum and it was anybody’s ballgame.
Then the wheels fell off for the Berries as they self-destructed during a key stretch. Evansville-bound D.J. Balentine scored on a drive, and a Logan player was then called for a technical foul for throwing an elbow, an official motioned. Balentine hit both free throws to make it 38-34, but the Kats threw the ball away on the same possession.
Penny answered with a long jumper to pull the Berries back within two for his eighth point of the quarter. But he picked up his fourth foul of the game 15 seconds later with 3:15 showing on the clock and sat the rest of the frame on the bench.
Later in the quarter the Logan bench was called for a tech with 2:45 remaining, and the Kats recorded their second four-point possession of the frame on techs to take a 47-36 lead, capping a 13-2 run since the game was tied at 34-all.
Logan clawed back to get within 47-39 after three. Penny re-entered to start the fourth and found Schrock for a basket and then hit a 3. Brock Armstrong was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws and Penny scored a field goal, and all of a sudden it was a tie game again at 49-all with 5:05 left in the game.
The Berries then went on a drought over the next three-plus minutes, as they had two good looks just miss, two turnovers and a missed free throw in the one-and-bonus. Balentine meanwhile had an assist and hit four free throws in a row to lift the Kats to a 55-49 lead.
Todd Yeoman then hit two free throws to bring Logan within four, and Armstrong came up with a steal and was fouled and hit 1 of 2 to make it 55-52 with 47 seconds remaining.
LaBradford Sebree hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it a two-possession game, and Penny misfired on 3-point attempt on the other end. Sebree again hit 1 of 2 to make it 57-52 with 18 seconds remaining, and Logan misfired on its final two possessions of the game.
“We didn’t attack the zone,” Victor said. “We just forced a couple things.”
Logan outrebounded Kokomo 32-28 for the game, including 24-13 in the second half. But a big difference was the Berries were outscored 27-10 on the foul line.
Balentine led the Kats with 18 points and went 10 of 10 from the foul line for the game. He was just 4 of 14 from the field, though.
“We were really trying to key on Balentine,” Victor said. “He got to the line quite a bit but he didn’t hit any 3s.”
Sebree was also in double figures with 12 points, and Tony Moses added nine.
Penny led Logan with 19 points on 8 of 21 shooting. He added four steals. Biggs scored eight, and Schrock, Armstrong and Bo Bullard added seven apiece. Schrock led the rebounding effort with seven.
“It still comes down to putting four quarters together,” Penny said. “We were playing from behind, that doesn’t really work out against a team with a lot talent like Kokomo. We have to come and bring it for all four quarters.”
Schrock pointed to the Berries’ slow start as a key to the loss.
“We started off, it was just all mental errors. Then we realized these guys aren’t invincible,” he said. “We gear up for these guys from the beginning of the season, all summer long, these last two games and Richmond coming up, that’s what we gear for all summer and the whole first half of the season. We put ourselves in the position to compete at the end. We’ve just got to turn things around in the last few minutes.”
Logan hosts Richmond on Tuesday for its first home NCC game, as the game against Muncie was moved to Indy for Super Bowl weekend.