CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The bright lights on the state's biggest stage didn't devour Logan's young stars.
On the contrary, the fifth-seeded Wildcats thrived under the pressure in winning the school's first game at the girls state tournament, a 77-66 victory over No. 4 Princeton in the Class AAA quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center.
Logan (16-9) will take on No. 1 Spring Valley (23-3) at 5:30 p.m. today in the semifinals. The Wildcats lost to Spring Valley by 29 points during the regular season but by just by one point in the section championship.
While the Wildcats' boys team has a rich hardwood history with seven state titles, the girls program last reached the state tournament in 2000 and this was just its third trip to Charleston since the Secondary School Activities Commission sanctioned girls basketball in 1976. The sizable Logan County contingent rose to its feet Thursday and applauded the team's effort with about 30 seconds left in the game.
"To be one of the last four standing in the triple-A field where the year before my first year we were 144th in the MetroNews [Power] Index ... I've got [our players] to believe,'' said Logan coach Kevin Gertz. "I've got some phenomenal players and athletes that people now are starting to learn about.''
Logan's youngsters didn't miss a beat under the scrutiny, shooting 56.5 percent overall and 63.2 percent in the second half.
Wildcats 5-foot-11 sophomore point guard Shayna Gore pumped in 36 points on 12-of -21 shooting and contributed four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Gore, who is on the ESPN HoopGurlz Top 100 Watch List for the Class of 2015, netted 20 points before halftime.
Logan 6-foot-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell turned in 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting with 17 boards, two blocks and three assists.
Wildcats 5-5 sophomore guard Kyra Cline only scored on a 3-pointer and had two assists, but her air-tight defense on Princeton senior guard McKenzie Akers held the Mountain State Athletic Conference's leading scorer to 17 points on 6-of-30 accuracy, including 1 of 6 from long range.
"It means the world to me and my teammates,'' said Gore. "Not many kids out there get to do this. In the past we haven't gotten to. It's just an honor to be here. We're not going back to Logan.''
In spite of their hot shooting, the Wildcats were locked in a fierce back-and-forth battle with the Tigers in the opening half and the teams ended tied at 34 at halftime. Logan held only a three-point lead (54-51) heading into the final quarter, which started with Gore on the bench after picking up her fourth foul near the end of the third quarter.