The Logan High School girls’ basketball team is starting over.
Following the graduation of all-state guard Shayna Gore, Logan’s all-time leading scorer with just south of 2,000 career points, the Lady Cats have a major hole to fill.
Gore, who led Logan to the 2013 Class AAA state championship game and was last year’s Gatorade State Player of the Year, is now playing Division I ball at Marshall University.
Gore’s absense will immediately be felt for the Lady Cats, which went 14-6 last season and were upended 83-67 by Spring Valley in the 3A sectional tourney at home.
But it’s not just Gore who is gone.
Starting guards Kyra Cline and Summer Collins were also lost to graduation and yet another starter, Lexi Hines, a 3-point specialist and 5-10 guard/forward, bolted away from Logan and transferred to rival Chapmanville Regional High School.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, for the Lady Cats, which were scheduled to open the 2015-16 season on Wednesday night at Chapmanville.
Logan returns Monica Mitchell, a 6-2 senior, and one of the state’s best centers. Mitchell averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds per game last season for Logan.
Ashton Spry, a 5-8 senior forward and a starter from last year, is also back.
Jamyya Knox, a 5-3 sophomore point guard, who came off the bench last year and gave Logan some quality minutes, also returns.
But after Mitchell, Spry and Knox, Logan has a roster filled with players with little or varsity experience.
The talent is there but Logan coach Kevin Gertz needs many players to grow up real fast. Since Logan is going back to Double-A next season, this will also be the Triple-A swan song for the Lady Cats.
“We graduated five seniors and we lost Lexi Hines to Chapmanville, so we lost six out of our top nine players,” Gertz said. “They will be very difficult to replace. We have a very good balance this year. We have 17 kids. I wish our junior class was a little bit bigger. We have a few girls that didn’t play that had played in the past.”
Logan will need Mitchell, Knox and Spry to take charge, especially early in the season.
“These three are the only players with significant varsity action,” Gertz said. “Jamyya could have played more last year had she put more into it. I’ve told her that. She’ll determine her playing time just as everyone will. Monica is playing real well right now. She’s leading us and Ashton is also leading us too. We need Monica to average in the high double-double figures this season.”
The Lady Cats have five seniors on the team: Mitchell, Spry, Faith Damron (5-2 guard); Brigette Duncan (5-6 forward); and Tayonnah Davis (5-3 forward).
“We have three other seniors in Duncan, Damron and Davis,” Gertz said. “Faith and Brigette have been with us for four years. It’s their time to get a shot. Tayonnah has been hit and miss a little. I’m real proud of my seniors.”
Logan has two juniors on the roster in Elizabeth Adkins (5-4 guard) and Brianna Welch (5-8 guard).
“Beth Adkins is playing just about as well as any guard that we have,” Gertz said. “She had a super scrimmage the other day. Bre Welch is probably the most improved player that we have. She’s had a lot of injuries, though, and she’s behind.”
The rest of the team is made up of freshmen and sophomores.
The sophomore class consists of: Ally Sipple (5-5 guard); Chelsea Napier (5-9 forward); Hailey Starkey (5-5 forward); and Jazmyne Early (6-0 center) who is Mitchell’s backup.
Sipple is expected to be Logan’s starting point guard this season.
“She’s worked really hard for us,” Gertz said of Sipple. “She played some varsity ball last year in some mop-up minutes.”
Early is expected to see some time in the paint.
“Jaz has really come on and she’s playing super well,” Gertz said. “David Early’s mother and her mother are sisters. She’ll be our backup at the five.”
Logan has five freshmen — Zoe Browning, Britney Welch, Kaileah Williams, Ceontanesha Knox and Alexis Perry.
Gertz said the challenge for his team this season is getting all the players to adjust to the varsity game real fast.
“That’s a big challenge,” he said. “During the JV games I don’t say a whole lot. It’s more freedom. But they don’t have that freedom when they step up to the varsity. They are learning the difference. It’s tough but I really love my sophomore group and my freshman group. Ten out of our 17 players are in these groups and seven or eight of them are going to be playing an awful lot for us. I think on the inside we’re going to be awfully good. Our weakness right now is our guard play against varsity experience. Can they play? Yes. It’s the physical strength that they are missing right now. As they mature and get older they will be just fine.”
The Lady Cats’ schedule will be difficult again this season with home-and-home series against Class AAA teams Morgantown (preseason No. 2) and Winfield and single games against Huntington (preseason No. 4), North Marion, Capital and 3A sectional rival Spring Valley (preseason No. 7).
Logan also takes on George Washington and Tolsia in the Tolsia Shootout Dec. 11-12 and also plays regional foe St. Albans (preseason No. 5) on Feb. 8 at the Charleston Civic Center.
On Jan. 26, Logan takes on Fairland (Ohio) at the Big Sandy Arena in Huntington.
The Lady Cats host 3A Buchanan-Upshur (preseason No. 10) on Jan. 30 in Logan’s King Coal Classic.
Logan will play one last time in its Class AAA sectional against Spring Valley, Huntington, Cabell Midland and Lincoln County. This year’s sectional tourney will be played at Spring Valley.
2015-16 Logan High School
Girls’ Basketball Schedule
Dec. 2: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 4: Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8: at Ripley, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11: vs. George Washington (at Tolsia Shootout), 6 p.m.
Dec. 12: at Tolsia (at Tolsia Shootout), 7 p.m.
Dec. 17: Huntington, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 19: North Marion, 3 p.m.
Dec. 30: Morgantown, 2 p.m.
Jan. 4: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 7: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9: at Morgantown, 4 p.m.
Jan. 13: at Spring Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: Belfry (Ky.), 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20: at Capital, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: vs. Fairland, Ohio (at Big Sandy Arena), 7 p.m.
Jan. 30: Buchannan-Upshur (King Coal Classic), 6 p.m.
Feb. 3: Ripley, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 6: Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8: at St. Albans (at Charleston Civic Center), 4:20 p.m.
Feb. 15: at Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 16: Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).