CROWN POINT – The Penn girls basketball team was clutch at crunch time Saturday.
The Kingsmen, for that reason, will get to play for a state championship.
No. 4 Penn erased a six-point deficit in the final quarter to edge past Logansport 44-41 to win the Class 4-A Crown Point Semistate.
The Kingsmen, who were state runner-up in 2011, will take a 25-1 mark into the title game next Saturday night. Penn will face No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence (26-1) at approximately 8:15 p.m. in the Hulman Center in Terre Haute.
BNL, which won the state title in a 28-0 season a year ago, avenged its lone loss of the season Saturday night by defeating No. 1 Lawrence North 62-54 to win the Bedford North Lawrence Semistate title Saturday night. The Stars are coached by former IU superstar Damon Bailey, whose daughter Alexa is a junior member of the team. Bailey spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach for his alma mater before taking over as head coach this year.
Penn started strong and finished fast Saturday to win its second semi state championship. The Kingsmen led 12-2 after the opening period and 19-12 at halftime. The Berries, led by Miss Basketball frontrunner Whitney Jennings, rallied to tie the game at 27-27 after three periods of play.
Logansport, which finishes at 24-3, scored the first six points of the final frame to take a 33-27 lead. The Kingsmen never flinched getting big buckets from Jessica Alexander and Lauren Ellenberger and hitting six straight free throws to rally for the win.
Penn closed the contest on a 15-6 run with Alexander coming up big with six key points in the game-ending finish. Kamra Solomon hit four huge free throws and Alexander added a pair in the final 1:15 of the game to seal the victory.
The Berries keyed on Penn’s talented sister duo of Caroline and Camryn Buhr, holding the Kingsmen’s top two scorers to a combined nine points. Caroline Buhr, who will play at San Diego, had two points and Camryn seven.
Alexander gave the Kingsmen a huge boost with a big time game as she scored 13 points to go with eight rebounds. Ellenberger and Kamra Solomon each had six key points for the champions.
Jennings, who entered the game averaging more than 30 points-per-game, finished with 23. The Iowa recruit had just six in the opening half. Nakeya Penny produced 17 points for the Berries. Jennings and Penny combined to score 28 of their team’s 29 points in the second half.
Jennings missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in the game.
Penn hit 13-21 free throws in the win, while Logansport was 10-17.
Penn coach Kristi Kaniewski, who played at Mishawaka High School and Bethel College, is now 108-13 in her fifth season.The Kingsmen’ lone loss this season was a 61-52 decision to Class 1-A No. 1 Oregon-Davis in a holiday tournament in December. The Bobcats (22-2) defeated Lafayette Central Catholic 67-46 to win their semi state game at Crown Point Saturday prior to Penn’s game.
Oregon-Davis, coached by Terry Minix and led by star guard Ashley Campbell, will play Vincennes Rivet in the Class 1-A state title game next Saturday morning in Terre Haute. The Bobcats won the Class 1-A state championship in 2007.