LOGAN – For Kevin Gertz, the upcoming 2021-2022 season is not about wins and losses, but about playing for a championship.
“I do not ever put an emphasis on wins and losses,” Logan girls basketball coach Gertz said. “Our goal is to play for the title and if we continue to work this hard, I believe we can return to the states and make a run at it.”
Fueled by a Class AAA semifinal appearance last season and the return of three starters, Gertz feels that his Lady Wildcats have the pieces in place to make a serious run at the school’s first state championship.
“Our practices are more competitive than they have been in years and maybe ever before,” Gertz said. “We are excited about the upcoming season and can’t wait to get started.”
Logan, 12-4 last season, fell 52-33 to Fairmont Senior in the state semifinals at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center and will have to replace two starters in Jill Tothe, a first-team All-Cardinal Conference selection and Class AAA all-state honorable mention selection, and Raegan Quick.
“Two great leaders and contributors for four years,” Gertz said. “They are the only two seniors in school history to play in two state tournaments.”
Logan returns 1,000-point scorer and Gatorade Player of the Year candidate Peyton Ilderton.
Ilderton averaged 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.5 steals per game last season for the Lady Wildcats in her junior season. For her efforts she was named to first team Class AAA All-State and named to first team All-Cardinal Conference.
Ilderton is one of three returning starters for the Lady Wildcats and is joined by seniors Emma Elkins and Abbie Myers, a second-team All-Cardinal Conference selection a year ago, in the starting rotation.
“Peyton is a dream to coach,” Gertz said. “This team is led by our returning seniors. Peyton, Emma and Abbie are returning starters from last year’s team.”
A fourth senior, Mika Dalton is expected to contribute as well as juniors Autumn Adkins, Natalie Blankenship, who was an honorable mention All-Cardinal Conference selection last season, and Rylee Conn.
“All three juniors are having great camps and are doing great things so far,” Gertz said. “Mika has returned from Ohio to play with her friends but is coming off a major knee injury and has been working hard to get healthy enough to get back and join the party.”
“All seven of these girls return, with Mika being the exception, but all will be major contributors to this year’s squad,” Gertz said.
Sophomores Bobbi Bradshaw and Harlee Quick are expected to see minutes this season and will factor into the rotation this season.
“Bobbi is a hard worker, a quick learner and I see great things in the future from her,” Gertz said. “I expect great things from Harlee not only this season but for years to come.”
Gertz said the Lady Wildcats biggest class is the incoming freshmen class. Currently eight freshmen are on the Lady Wildcats roster and Gertz believes that four of them will see extensive action at the varsity level.
“Halle Crouse and Anna Blankenship will be a big lift to the guards,” Gertz said. “Bam Mosby and Payton Butcher will see plenty of minutes inside.”
“All four will give us great depth this season,” Gertz said. “Allyson Meade, Darea Capua, Camryn Harvey and Anna Blankenship are honing their skills and learning our system daily to see plenty of action in the future.”
With only two seniors lost to graduation, three returning starters, eight regulars returning and a large incoming freshmen class, the Lady Wildcats hope to run 12-to-13 players a night and wear down the competition.
“This is the deepest team I have ever had,” Gertz said. “The plan is to pressure all game long and that takes numbers.
“We have great team speed, many versatile players and hopefully the pressure never stops,” Gertz said. “There is a lot of talent, a lot of depth and the biggest challenge I see is finding enough minutes for all of them.”
Gertz will be joined on the bench by assistant coaches Aime Lanehart, Jack Stewart, Justin Stivason and Mike Tothe.
“My staff is the best I could possibly ask for,” Getz said. “Mike has been with me in some capacity since my very first season and he is another head coach on the bench. I couldn’t do it without him.”
“Justin is entering his fourth season and works these girls out like no other,” Gertz said. “He has led them in weight training in the fall and summer and it has helped prepare them for the season.”
Stewart is in his first season with the Lady Wildcats while Lanehart has been around the program for years according to Gertz.
“Jack has helped us behind the scenes, but he brings a new element to the staff with his energy and ideas,” Gertz said. “Aime takes care of all the little things that the girls need, and it takes a ton of pressure off of me and the rest of the staff.”
The Lady Wildcats will be challenged by a schedule that includes a pair of reigning champions in Class AAA Nitro and Class AA Wyoming East. Logan will travel to Nitro on Jan. 29 and host Wyoming East on Dec. 30 and travel to New Richmond on Jan. 13.
The Lady Wildcats will host Pikeview and Lincoln on Dec. 10 and 11 in the Wildcat Classic Premiere Showcase at the Willie Akers Arena. The Lady Wildcats defeated Pikeview in the opening round of the Class AAA quarterfinals last April in Charleston.
“We have a very good schedule,” Gertz said. “We have a shootout at home that is second to none and features 11 games in two days. Nearly every team that is playing in it played in last season’s state tournament.”
Home and home series with county rival Chapmanville and Cardinal Conference foe Scott and Class AAA Westside. Logan will host Class AAAA Oak Hill, Cardinal Conference foe Sissonville and travel to Herbert Hoover for a conference showdown.
Logan also has home-and-home with sectional opponents Lincoln County, Scott and Wayne and home-and-home games with potential regional opponents Ripley and Winfield.
“Our section and region is strong every year,” Gertz said. “I personally believe that everyone in our section was good enough to play in the state last season and I feel everyone we played could have been a top eight seed.”
The road to Charleston starts Dec. 7 for the Lady Wildcats as they open at Herbert Hoover.