Grant Traylor: Tothe comes to Logan's rescue
With Logan's state semifinal against Spring Valley on the line, there was one person who everyone knew would have the ball in her hands.
But there was one person that head coach Kevin Gertz was comfortable having the ball, and it wasn't the same as everyone thought.
As Spring Valley converged on Logan's leading scorer Shayna Gore, senior Hannah Tothe stood wide open on the wing.
"I saw Hannah open and I screamed to Shayna 'Kick it! Kick it! Hannah's to your right.' She picked her up and threw it and it was perfect," Gertz said. "We shot it at the right time, in good rhythm and it's fitting that the ball was in her hands."
Everyone else was frantic -- the fans, the coaches, the players -- but Tothe stood patient and calm.
And in position, ready to shoot Logan to its first girls basketball state tournament finals appearance in school history.
As Gore threw the ball to Tothe, the atmosphere in the Charleston Civic Center went to a slow-mo type feel.
There was the pass.
There was the shot.
And there was then, the celebration.
The only one that wasn't jumping up and down was Tothe, who was trying to track the final play.
Tothe's calm and borderline stoic nature is almost ironic, considering where she's come from to send Logan to the Class AAA championship game.
Her freshman season, the Wildcats were 4-17 and an after-though in the West Virginia high school landscape.
Now, the Wildcats have won four games during this postseason run, which has included wins over Huntington High, Princeton and Spring Valley -- all top five teams during the regular season.
"It feels really good, especially all the summers that I gave up to play AAU and play with teammates," Tothe said. "I wouldn't do anything else because we're doing what we love. There's no better way to end my high school career than on the Civic Center floor with a chance for the ring.
"It's what we said from day one, Road to the Ring. That's why we've worked our hind-ends off."
Saturday evening will provide Tothe with one last game in her high school career.
Win or lose, it's the last in a Logan uniform.
And while it is an emotional time, Tothe will stand there calm, ready and waiting.
She'll be ready should that final shot come.
SPORTSMANSHIP AT ITS BEST: As the final shot went in for Logan in its 52-49 win over Spring Valley, Madison Morris of the Timberwolves broke down in tears at mid-court.
And the first person to console her was Gore, who was also in tears.
For Gore, it was an array of emotions.
She was elated to be moving on to the state championship, but she was also hurting for her good friend and AAU teammate.
"I saw Maddie starting to cry and her being my AAU teammate,I just thought I'd go over and talk to her and tell her to keep her head up because she's a heck of a ball player," Gore said. "If they'd have won, she'd have deserved it. She's one of my teammates and I wanted to show her the respect that she needed after our win."
Gertz elaborated on the correlation between the two schools, which has grown over the last two weeks especially.
"Our boys played in the first sectional game and there weren't a lot of kids from either school at either game," Gertz said. "The whole second half of that game (Spring Valley's) Sarah (Kelly) and Maddie and the girls there with us sat and talked the entire time.
"That's the great thing about athletics. You fought to the death out there, but you develop friendships for life. That's what these kids are doing right now, and they're great kids. I hugged Sarah, hugged Maddie...because they are phenomenal kids -- all those kids there."
ALIVE FOR FIVE: Huntington St. Joe is going for history Saturday afternoon.
The Irish are looking to match the West Virginia girls basketball record for consecutive state titles with five when they take on St. Marys in the Class A finals at noon.
It will be the sixth consecutive title game appearance for the Irish, who last lost to an in-state opponent in 2008's title game against Wheeling Central.
St. Joe will be trying to match the mark set by Summers County from 2007-2011.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.