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Logan girls top N. Valley

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

LOGAN -- After the game, one team was all smiles while the other was melancholy.

There's nothing strange about that. Actually, it's pretty common, but the usual roles were reversed. The losing team was the one smiling, while the winners were left disappointed.

The Logan girls' basketball team won 34-31 on Friday in its home gymnasium, but the Northern Valley Huskies (1-6), who were winless last year, nearly upset Logan -- a 5-3 team that has made back-to-back Class 1A Division II state tournaments.

In fact, if Northern Valley would have made more than 5 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter or if freshman point guard Brooke Baird's 3-pointer wouldn't have rattled out in the final minute, the outcome easily could have been different.

"I told them after the game they could have just rolled over and quit, but they kept battling and that made me really proud of them," said first-year Northern Valley head coach Logan Kats.

Logan head coach Brandon Gehring said, despite his squad's victory, it "definitely" wasn't the Trojans' best performance Friday.

"Like I told the girls, it's a sign you are becoming a good team when you walk in your locker room and you feel like you lost, but you've got the win up there on the scoreboard," Gehring said.

Logan made just 12 of 47 and committed 21 turnovers, as the Trojans struggled to penetrate Northern Valley's zone defense.

The Huskies packed their defense in tight around Logan's forwards, sometimes triple teaming the Trojans' taller players.

"I told the girls if they were going to beat us that they had to beat us from the outside," Kats said.

Gehring said he expected to see a man-to-man defense, and it ruined their game plan.

"That part is my fault," he said. "I prepped my girls for man, and here they run a zone on us. It's a good idea to pack it in on these guys, because we've got some pretty long posts that can score. But we've got to adjust and we've got to play better against zone."

Logan junior guard Brooke Hammond led her squad with 11 points, making 4 of 5 from the free throw line, and sophomore forward Kadee Braun was a field goal short of a double-double, finishing with eight points and 17 rebounds.

However, Braun was disappointed. Braun, who averages more than 10 rebounds per game, expected to grab more, explaining she failed to box out properly for much of the night.

"Tonight was just not one of (my better) nights," Braun said.

Baird led Northern Valley in scoring with 14 points on 4-of-19 shooting.

Northern Valley didn't have a spectacular offensive night either, making just 10 of 47, but the Huskies played more efficiently in the second half.

After committing 17 turnovers in the first half, they had just three in the second.

"Cutting those turnovers down really helped us stay in the game, and we actually had a chance to win it down the stretch," Kats said.

Logan had a seven-point lead with 7:20 remaining in the game, but Northern Valley drove the lane and nickel and dimed Logan down the stretch, reaching the foul line six times in the final seven minutes.

However, the Huskies couldn't convert and didn't take advantage of a late cold stretch from Logan. The Trojans missed seven shot attempts in the final seven minutes and were 1 of 5 from the free throw line.

Northern Valley was down 34-31 when Baird chucked up a 3-pointer in the final minute. The ball bounced inside the cylinder before rimming out.

The Huskies finished 1 of 10 from the field and 5 of 12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

"They even said they were sorry they missed their free throws, but it's a learning experience," Kats said.