With Logan Elm mired in mediocrity at the midway point of its season, Abby Hatter and her teammates knew it was now or never.
“The first part of our season was a letdown, because we knew we could play better,” Hatter said. “We had a couple of losses we shouldn’t had, so we knew if we wanted our fortunes to change it had to start with our mentality, along with playing better defense, rebounding and making plays in crunch time.”
Logan Elm rebounded from that 6-6 start to win nine of its final 12 games and claimed its first sectional title since 2014 along the way.
“We came together as a team, we played hard and it was special how we finished the season,” Hatter said. “Obviously, we wish we could have went further because you never want to stop playing, but we finished the season playing at a high level.”
Hatter also played at a high level for the Braves during their turnaround and over the course of her four-year career in the red-and-white. She was recently recognized for her season and career by claiming The Herald Award, presented to the top senior girls basketball player in Pickaway County.
“It’s a huge accomplishment and an honor,” Hatter said. “I couldn’t have won that award without my teammates, coaches and family.
“I’ve went from a raw player with not a lot of skills in fifth-grade to the guard I am today, because of the unconditional support and love of my dad. I can’t say enough about my mom and all the support she gives me, being someone I can talk to in tough times and what all she’s done for me.”
Logan Elm coach John Denen made a pair of changes midway through the season, moving Megan Diehl to the point so Hatter could go to shooting guard and also giving Riley Schultz a more prominent role defensively.
“It really helped me to be able to drive to the basket, get more shots and also create some opportunities for my teammates without having to worry about handling the basketball and getting us into our offense,” Hatter said.
Denen discussed Hatter’s shooting ability and why he made the change.
“Abby is one of the top two shooters I’ve coached during my career,” he said. “I’ve coached some really good players, so that’s high praise and Abby deserves that praise. “I really felt that allowed Abby to settle in and let the game come to her more in the second half of the season.
“Her overall efficiency increased on offense and that also created some other opportunities for our kids. Abby would be the first to tell you how big it was for Megan Diehl to take over the point and Riley Schultz to step-up defensively to take some of the load that Abby had on her shoulders in the first half.”
Hatter shot 45 percent from two-point range, 42 percent from three and 87 percent at the free throw line. The Logan Elm senior led the team with 15.7 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2 steals.
“For a player to shoot 87 percent from the free throw line, that’s phenomenal, especially in this era,” Denen said. “Abby is the type of player who you feel comfortable shooting out to 25-feet away from the basket, because she has a pretty shot and she works a lot at it.
“I really enjoyed coaching Abby, because she has the ability to do a lot of different things on the floor, and she’s a competitor. She has a drive to win.”
While the Braves finished fifth in the Mid-State League Buckeye Division, they defeated a pair of conference champions during the season. Logan Elm topped Scioto Valley Conference champion Unioto 38-32 in late December and then blasted Frontier Athletic Conference co-champion McClain 64-36 in a sectional final.
“That was one of our goals entering the season, because it’s been awhile since Logan Elm had won a sectional,” Hatter said. “We really played well that night and showed what we thought we were capable of earlier in the season by putting together a complete game.”
Hatter scored 17 points, dished out six assists and had four rebounds in the sectional final win.
After losing 54-32 and 52-25 to Circleville in the regular-season, the Braves trailed the top-ranked team in the state by just a point during the fourth quarter before falling 47-38.
“We had a lot of confidence coming into that game after beating Fairfield Union, Amanda and McClain, and we went out, played well and gave Circleville a great game,” Hatter said. “It was tough to lose, but we played hard, played well together and gave everything we had.”
Hatter finishes her career with 1,287 points and is the all-time leading scorer in program history.
A four-year starter, Hatter noted how she looked up to a pair of teammates.
“Madison Hunter was my first experience of playing with a pretty good player, and I wanted to play with the attitude she played with and lead a good team,” Hatter said. “In high school, Lauryn VanHoose was my main role model, because I always respected how happy, positive and nice she was with everyone and the way she led.”
Hatter will next suit up for Notre Dame College, an NCAA Division II institution, located in Cleveland, and plans to major in business.
“Notre Dame College is getting a good one,” Denen said.