ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- It was not always pretty, and at times was downright rough, but Logan fought and fended off a late rally to beat St. Albans 57-46 to capture the Class AAA Region 4 girls basketball co-championship and advance to the program's first state tournament since 2000.
The Wildcats (15-9) opened the game by putting pressure on the Red Dragons and running out to an early 16-3 lead. By the end of the first quarter Logan led 20-9 thanks in large part to four 3-pointers from senior Hannah Tothe.
By halftime, Logan held a 30-19 advantage and had forced St. Albans (14-11) from its usual zone defense and into guarding the Wildcats man to man.
"They shot the eyes out of the basket," Red Dragons' coach Scott James said. "We had a plan to where we were going to stay with [Shayna Gore] and double down on [Monica Mitchell] and the coaches and I talked about Tothe being the wild card. If she was hitting we were going to have to make some changes quick and she came out early and that's what hurt us."
Logan coach Kevin Gertz said Gore and Mitchell have been the team's leading scorers all season, and when St. Albans was able to limit what they could do he needed other players to fill that void.
"Somebody's got to score," he said. "I told them, 'You're going to see a lot of zone. Somebody's got to knock down shots,' and they did."
St. Albans clawed its way back into the game in the second half, matching Logan point for point and eventually cutting the Wildcats' lead to as few as nine points early in the fourth quarter on a Lexie Cooper 3-pointer.
"[Cooper] and Torri [Wilson] stepped up, attacked the creases and hit their shots," James said. "It got us right back in the basketball game."
Logan was able to withstand the late run St. Albans made by going back to what got the Wildcats to this point - Gore and Mitchell.
Gore finished with nine points, with all of them coming in the second half. Gertz said she was frustrated at halftime but he told her to play her game and things would fall into place.
"She's a tremendous player and has been our leading scorer almost every game this year," he said. "They shut her down but she got other people involved and that's how we got that first half lead, but she finished the fourth quarter like an all-stater."
Time and again Gore brought the ball up the court and found Mitchell in the paint where the freshman forward used her size to punish the shorter Red Dragon defenders and get to the foul line.