Logan leads Beaver to win over Kittanning
With a starting lineup of players taller than 6-foot-1, Kittanning's boys basketball team planned to lean on its height and liked its chances of containing Beaver's super-sized scoring tandem of center Aaron Barlow and forward Corey Nesmith.
But a shifty 5-10 guard with plans to play baseball in college stood out among the long-limbed guys on the court Friday night at North Allegheny High School.
Senior Austin Logan scored a game-high 36 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, to propel No. 4 Beaver (19-3) to a 71-66 win over Kittanning (20-5) in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals.
For the second straight season, the Bobcats advanced to the semifinals where they'll meet No. 1 Chartiers Valley (21-3) on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Kittanning can make the PIAA tournament if Beaver reaches the finals.
Logan resembled a straightforward 3-point shooter in the first half when he sank three from beyond the arc. But down the stretch, he evolved into the Bobcats' premier slasher.
“We tried to shut down their big guys,” Kittanning coach Bill Henry said, referring to the 6-5 Barlow and the 6-3 Nesmith. “But that's the sign of a good team. ... (Logan) wasn't their first or second option.”
Logan, who entered the game averaging about 15 points per game, asserted himself about a minute into the fourth quarter, when Kittanning led, 45-44. He sank a 3-pointer with 6:40 left in the game. A minute later, he earned a trip to the foul line. Another minute later, he made a lay-up on the left side of the lane.
“That's a senior, when the money was on the line, who didn't want his season to end,” Beaver coach Andrew Podbielski said. “I cannot say enough about the career he's had. He won us the game.”
Kittanning, which turned to its rarely used man-to-man defense, struggled to slow Logan in the half court.
“I just felt like he was on fire,” Kittanning sophomore Noah Kunst said. “It seemed like everything he did was just right. ... He was quick and really deceptive.”
The Wildcats turned to star senior Sterling Henry, who found success driving to the hoop. But without defensive stops, Henry and his teammates struggled to gain ground on Beaver.
Henry finished with 19 points, while Alek Schaffer added 13 and Kevin Barnes contributed 11.
Barlow and Nesmith scored 11 and 13, respectively; both had eight points at halftime.
Before Logan became a one-man scoring machine, Beaver and Kittanning relied on balanced offenses and traded runs. The Bobcats closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run to go ahead, 17-8.
Kittanning answered with a 12-3 run early in the second quarter that cut its deficit to 22-20. But Beaver shifted momentum back to its side with a 10-2 run to close the first half.
A 9-for-29 performance from the floor illustrated Kittanning's offensive struggles. Beaver made 11 of 24 attempts through two quarters.
“You've got to give Beaver credit,” Bill Henry said. “They were a little quicker than we were. We got that slow start, and it kind of snowballed from there. ... We left a lot of points on the floor.”