By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — Miami East and Covington hooked up on Monday in a make-up game rescheduled from last Tuesday and it was evident from the opening tip that both teams were going to pack things in tight and force the other to be patient with the basketball.
And what materialized was a chess match throughout as each team took turns with the momentum only to see the other make adjustments.
But in the end, Miami East made a few more plays than Covington and captured a 55-46 win.
“We didn’t shoot particularly well tonight, but we were able to make some plays in the fourth quarter to give ourselves a cushion,” said Miami East coach Allen Mack. “Give Covington credit, they played a tight zone and made it difficult for us to do some of the things we wanted to do.”
Miami East entered the contest with an 11-1 record and ranked in the state, but Covington wasn’t intimidated and played inspired team basketball.
“You bet,” Covington coach Matt Pond agreed. “That’s a very good basketball team who is very well coached and our kids competed their tails off.”
Covington took the momentum early with a trey and a three-point play by Trevor Miller surrounded by a trey by Brandon Mack for Miami East.
But the Vikings went on an 11-0 run before Covington closed out the first period with two straight buckets to make the score 14-10 after one.
Both teams traded blows to start the second quarter as Miami East clung to a 21-19 lead midway through the frame.
But like great teams do, Miami East closed out the half with a 10-2 run thanks to slashing drives to the basket by senior Damien Mackesy.
“We got caught in a transition game with them in the second quarter,” Pond explained. “We had to remind the kids to be patient, slow the game down and play at our tempo.”
And Covington did just that to start the second half as it scored the first 11 points of the third to take a 32-31 lead.
Mackesy ended the run with a layup and sparked a 9-4 run to make the score 40-36 in the Vikings’ favor with one quarter to play.
“We’ve been leaning on Damien a little bit as of late,” Mack said. “It seems like whenever we need a play he’s able to make one.”
And Mackesy would ultimately take over the game in the fourth quarter as he scored 11 of his game-high 25 points in the frame.
“We were able to execute some sets in the fourth quarter that weren’t working earlier in the game,” Mack explained. “We had the alley-oop to Damien (Mackesy) that seemed to get us going. That was a big play at the time.”
At the time Miami East held a slim 41-37 lead and Covington seemed to have the tempo of the game going its way.
It sparked a 10-2 run to give the Vikings a ten-point lead that forced the Buccaneers into a quicker offensive pace in an attempt to quickly cut into the lead.
But time wasn’t in Covington’s favor as Miami East held on for the 55-46 win.
“You are never happy with a loss, but I’m very happy with how hard our kids played,” Pond said. “We did some good things – things we can build on.”
Mackesy led all scorers with 25 points as he was the lone Viking in double figures.
Covington was led in scoring by Jordan Maschino, who tallied 18 points. Trevor Miller also had a big night for the Buccs with 17 points.
The Buccaneers shot 42 percent from the floor (18-43), 25 percent from behind the arc (4-16) and converted on 6 of 11 from the free throw line for 55 percent
Miami East made 22 of 45 shots from the floor for 49 percent, 2 of 12 from three-point range for 17 percent and 9 of 12 from the line for 75 percent
The Buccaneers held a 29 to 23 advantage on the glass and pulled down 11 offensive rebounds to just 6 for Miami East.
But Miami East took advantage of Covington miscues as it converted 17 turnovers into 22 points, while the Buccaneers managed just 8 points off of 10 Viking turnovers.
Covington drops to 7-6 overall and 4-2 in the CCC as it travels to Bethel on Friday, while Miami East moves to 12-1 on the season and 6-0 in the CCC. The Vikings travel to Ansonia on Friday.