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Tothe to the rescue for Logan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hannah Tothe has experienced the bad, the ugly and finally the good during her four years at Logan.

The 5-foot-7 senior guard swished a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to send the fifth-seeded Wildcats past No. 1 Spring Valley 52-49 Friday evening in the Class AAA girls state tournament semifinals. A crowd of about 5,000 attended the back-and-forth matchup at the Charleston Civic Center.

Logan (17-9), which has the second-most losses in the AAA field, will play in the championship game at 7:15 tonight against No. 3 Parkersburg South, which upset No. 2 Morgantown 54-51 in Friday's late game.

Spring Valley, which rallied from an 11-point deficit late in the third quarter, took the lead at 49-47 with 50.7 seconds left in the final period on sophomore forward Brooke Heck's layup on a baseball pass from sophomore guard Sarah Kelly about 75 feet away.

Logan sophomore guard Shayna Gore hit a jumper in the paint to knot the game at 49-all with 40.6 seconds remaining. Timberwolves sophomore forward Madison Morrison missed a jumper in the lane but Spring Valley corralled the rebound. Wildcats 6-foot-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell blocked a shot in the lane and tied up the possesion, giving the ball to Logan.

Gore brought the ball up the court under pressure - the kind that forced the Wildcats into 26 turnovers - and passed out of a double-team to Tothe, who was on the right wing. Tothe coolly buried the 3 to put her team in front 52-49.

"I'm pretty confident when it comes down to the wire,'' said Tothe, who finished with 13 points behind four 3s and added six rebounds and five assists. "I knew [Spring Valley was] going to have to double Shayna because nobody can stop her on that team. I just stood wide open. When it comes down to it I have confidence that we can do it.''

Kelly hoisted up a 3 but it bounced off the rim as time expired, sending Logan into a frenzy near midcourt as a deafening roar arose from their fans for several minutes. 

Logan coach Kevin Gertz, who suffered a heart attack during quadruple bypass surgery last September, couldn't make it to the locker room at halftime and had to sit on a chair in the Civic Center hallway for about four minutes. The Civic Center staff was concerned enough to have him checked out by paramedics.  

"I told the girls, 'They're going to make a run. You've just got to withstand it and make the last run of the game,' " Gertz said. "I guess the three points was the last run of the game.''

Logan's Gore, who scored 36 points in Thursday's quarterfinals, netted 17 points and contributed three rebounds, six assists and four steals. Mitchell added her second straight double-double with 12 points, 10 boards, five blocks and two steals.

But Friday belonged to Tothe, who had weathered some rough storms with the Wildcats. In her freshman season, Logan posted just four wins. Now, the Wildcats have won their first state tournament game in school history and are on the cusp of their first title. The Wildcats had only made two previous trips to states since girls basketball was sanctioned by the Secondary School Activities Commission in 1976.

"Going to a championship and having a shot to win it when you've been at your lowest point is no better feeling,'' Tothe said. "This year I felt something special the whole year. When I was little in the all-girls league it was, 'Your senior year ya'll are going to states.' Now we're at states and now we're going for a championship.''

"This young lady has given up more than any kid could possibly give up to turn this thing around,'' said Gertz of Tothe's sacrifice to allow the younger players to play bigger roles. "She went through the lowest. I'm so happy that she was the one. She's the one that wanted to take that shot.''

Spring Valley (23-4) held the advantage over Logan in rebounds (45-32), points in the paint (32-18) and committed six fewer turnovers, but still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The Timberwolves, though, couldn't find their shooting touch, hitting just 30.6 percent, including a dismal 25.8 percent in falling behind at the break.

"We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half,'' said Spring Valley coach Bo Miller. "We fought back in the second half and played like we should be playing, but you can't get down to a team like Logan that bad.''

Heck turned in a game-high 20 points with nine rebounds and three steals for Spring Valley while Morris chipped in 15 points, 11 boards and five steals.

Logan faced Spring Valley for the third time this season, winning for the initial time. The Timberwolves had beaten the Wildcats by 29 at home during the regular season and one point at Huntington High School in the section title game.

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.

 


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