LOGANSPORT, Ind. - She's the type of player who normally comes along just once in a coach’s career, but Logansport head coach Jerry Hoover has been fortunate to have now coached two such players. In the late 1970's, Hoover was the boys head coach at Ben Davis and had the opportunity to coach former Indiana University great Randy Wittman. Heaven smiled down on Hoover for a second time as he now is entering his last season coaching senior Whitney Jennings, who is one of the frontrunners for this seasons prestigious Indiana Miss Basketball honor.
Hoover and the Logansport community will not want this season to end as Jennings takes her game to the University of Iowa next year to begin her career as a Hawkeye. Over her career with the Berries, Jennings has put up some amazing numbers and will only add to them this year. An average year for Jennings could place her within the top 10 all-time scorers in the state. Entering her fourth season with the Lady Berries, Jennings had already accumulated 1,778 points, 498 assists, 264 steals, and 282 rebounds. That is an average of 24.4 points, 6.8 assists, 3.6 steals and 3.9 rebounds per game – numbers certainly worthy of a Miss Basketball winner. During that three-year span, the Berries have gone 62-11 and are currently the two-time defending undefeated North Central Conference champs.
After her junior season, Jennings picked up some impressive honors that include: Associated Press All-State 1st Team, Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Underclass First Team, Hoosier Basketball Magazine 1st Team, Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association First Team. She was also a core member of the Indiana Junior All-Star Team.
The start of the 2013-2014 campaign has not been a disappointment, either. The Class 4A No. 6-ranked Berries are a perfect 12-0 and have defeated Howard County squads Kokomo and Class 3A No. 6 Western. And on Dec. 21, Jennings tossed in 45 points en route to an 84-72 win over Anderson, and in the process, passed Caleb Springer’s 2,042 career point total to become the schools all-time leading scorer. She also grabbed 11 rebounds in the Anderson game for a double-double. The previous game, she scored 39 points and swiped eight steals against Harrison and was named the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association/Subway Player of the Week for District 1.
She also earned IBCA/Subway Player of the Week honors during the second week of the season when she averaged 35.5 points, 7 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 10.5 steals. During that two-game, seven-day span, she scored a triple-double with a 30 point, 13 assist and 11 steal performance against Maconaquah. And against Kokomo, she scored 41 points and tallied 10 steals for a double-double.
Contrary to belief, there is more to Jennings than just being an unbelievable basketball player – she is also an outstanding student. She entered her senior year ranked seventh in her class with a 4.17 GPA. She is a member of Logansport High School National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
In addition to basketball, Jennings has earned four varsity letters in soccer and was named to the 2012 and the 2013 Indiana Soccer Coaches Association District 3 First Team.
And if that is not enough, she completes her athletic season as the No. 1 singles in tennis for LHS and has a career record of 68-6. The LHS girls tennis team has been the NCC champion in 2012 and sectional champion during all three of her years. Jennings was also the individual sectional champion in 2012 and 2013 and was named Honorable Mention All-State in singles by the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association in 2012 and 2013.
“This is crazy, it's all gone by so fast. I think about my freshman year and it seems just like yesterday,” said Jennings.
When asked about the possibility of being named Miss Basketball, Jennings was fairly low key about the issue.
“Winning Miss Basketball is something that I've always thought would be pretty cool,” said the sharpshooter. “It's something a lot of girls think about when they're little. But honestly, it isn't something that I think about very much. It would definitely be a great honor and a great boost to the community but it isn't something I spend time thinking about.”
Members of the Berries basketball team recently returned from a goodwill tour of China. While there, they were able to meet students from their sister school and at times display some of their basketball skills.
“It was really a neat experience,” said Jennings. “Our first stop was in Beijing and we got to see so much of the history there. Wherever we went the people were so accepting of us and treated us so well. They applauded when we came in, they had bands that played for us, and we stayed at the best hotels. It was just an amazing trip that I'm glad we made.”
The Berries are once again relying heavily on Jennings, and if she delivers as she has the past three seasons, then the Hawkeye bound senior will end her career with legendary Hoosier names like Shanna Zolman, Stephanie White, and Skylar Diggins.
(Story courtesy of the Kokomo Herald, Rick Conrad and Dean Hockney)