By Ben Robinson
The Covington Buccaneers showed maturity and resolve in gutting out a 55-46 win over Botkins in a game where everything seemed to go the other way in the sectional tournament at Piqua High School.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids,” said Covington coach Matt Pond. “They did what they have done all year, which is play together and compete. They made their coaches and community proud all season.”
In a contest where it seemed Botkins spent the majority of the night at the free throw line, the Buccaneers overcame losing both Trevor Miller and Jordan Maschino in the fourth quarter due to fouling out – a duo that combined to score 31 points on the night – by sticking together down the stretch to keep the Trojans at bay.
Unselfish basketball is what got the job done for Covington, even when things didn’t go the Buccs’ way at critical times in the contest.
“The great thing about this group is they are so unselfish,” Pond said. “We have been preaching to share the basketball and not really care who gets the credit. The kids did that tonight. They found each other in crunch time.”
Trevor Miller was the hot hand early for Covington as he scored 10 first half points to lead Covington to a 21-16 lead at the break.
But Miller picked up his third foul early in the third and Botkins went on a 6-0 run to take its first lead of the contest.
With momentum on their side, the Trojans outscored Covington 19-11 in the frame to take a 35-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We played through a lot of adversity tonight,” Pond said. “We gave up the lead going into the fourth quarter, but the kids have proven all season that they are going to kick, scrape and claw for everything we get. We say “family” after every break, and the kids believe it.”
Kick, scrape and claw is what Covington did as it tied the score at 40-40 before a huge trey from the baseline by Jordan Maschinco gave the Buccaneers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.
“We reversed the basketball and Nathan (Blei) found me open,” Maschino explained. “It felt good to hit that shot for the team.”
The trey by Maschino sparked an 8-0 run, but in the process Trevor Miller picked up two quick fouls to foul out with just under three minutes left in the game after scoring 19 points.
Shortly thereafter, Maschino found a spot on the bench next to Miller thanks to a foul called on a scramble for a loose basketball and suddenly Covington was without its two leading scorers for the final two-minutes.
But the Buccaneers were able to prevail as Botkins was forced to send Covington to the free throw line down the stretch in an attempt to extend the game.
“This is a huge, huge win for our program,” said Pond. “It is great to see the hard work of these kids rewarded with a tournament win. To have gone through everything we have and to put things together is just great for our program.”
Covington was 21 of 41 from the floor for 51%, while Botkins was 14 of 44 for 32%. The Buccaneers made 4 of 10 from three-point range, while the Trojans missed all eleven of their attempts from behind the arc.
Shockingly, the Buccaneers only shot 16 free throws to 25 for Botkins despite leading for much of the contest. Covington made nine of its attempts, while the Trojans made 18 free throws.
Regardless, it was a much-deserved tournament win for Covington as it advances in the sectional tournament against Jackson Center on Wednesday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
Covington – 10 .. 11 .. 11 .. 23 = 55
Botkins – 7 .. 9 .. 19 .. 11 = 46
Trevor Miller – 19
Jordan Maschino – 12
Nathan Blei – 7
Tristin Sowers – 7
Kenny Atkinson – 6
Adam Lefeld – 2
Jayce Pond – 2
Chad Bergman – 19
Erik Greve – 15
Cameron Flora – 7
Nolan Greve – 3
Aaron Fullenkamp – 2