CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kevin Gertz knows he's playing with house money.
The Logan coach has already beaten the Grim Reaper. He's about to break the casino's bank.
Gertz suffered a heart attack during quadruple bypass surgery in which his heart stopped late last summer, and now he has his Wildcats on one of the most remarkable runs in girls high school basketball state tournament history.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats knocked off No. 1 Spring Valley 52-49 in Friday's Class AAA semifinals on senior guard Hannah Tothe's last-second 3-pointer to advance to their first state championship game. Logan will face Parkersburg South at 7:15 tonight in the title showdown.
Logan picked up its first state tournament game in school history in Thursday's quarterfinals over No. 4 Princeton.
"My life has changed, there's no doubt about it,'' said Gertz. "I took my life for granted and now I don't. This has been the time of my life. I got a second chance at life.''
Gertz, who was cleared to coach this season just before practice started in November, still isn't 100 percent. After the first half of Friday's semis he had to sit down on a chair in the hallway before eventually making his way to the locker room. Civic Center staffers were concerned enough to have paramedics check him out.
"I'm struggling,'' said the 45-year-old former Logan baseball and basketball standout. "It took me until about the six-minute mark to get in the locker room at halftime. I'm not doing great. I get extremely tired. I don't have all my strength back, but I'm healthier now than I've been in 15 or 20 years.
"We're going to make it through today and then I'm going to get myself checked out because I'm not where I should be to coach this way. I'm so proud of my girls. I've played ball all my life and I've never been part of a game like [Friday's].''
Gertz started feeling bad in early September and finally went to the doctor after a couple of episodes that resembled heart attacks.
"I had lost maybe 120 pounds not trying,'' he said. "They put in a quadruple bypass and while they were doing the last one I had a heart attack on the table and flat-lined. "I was flat for what they said was probably around 30 seconds.''
Gertz wanted nothing more than to get back on the sidelines as soon as possible.
"I knew that the only thing I wanted to do was coach,'' he said. "Coaching is my life. I don't see my wife ever. This coaching takes me away from my son. We make it work.''