By Rob Kiser
and Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — Jim Meyer’s return as Covington girls basketball coach was a winning one, as the Lady Buccs stunned Houston with a fourth-quarter rally to win 52-49 in non-conference action to open the season.
“This was the first game in the new gym and someday these will be able to tell their grandkids what they did,” said a very pleased Covington coach. “They will never forget this game because it was the first one in the new gym.”
Sara Monnier had led Houston back from an early deficit and when she hit a three with just over four minutes remaining, the Lady Wildcats led 46-36 and Monnier had 26 points.
But, she would not score again and Covington when on 14-1 run to take a 50-47 lead before holding on for the win.
“We went into a full-court press and got some turnovers,” Meyer explained. “Lauren Christian shut down their bigs late in the game. Our girls were relentless.”
It started with a steal and layup by Sammi Whiteman.
After Kara Maier hit a free throw for Houston to make it 47-38, Covington reeled off 12 straight points.
The Lady Buccs were still trailing 47-42 with 1:58 to go when Addison Metz had a steal and layup to make it 47-44.
Jordan Crowell drilled a three with 1:20 to go and suddenly it was 47-47.
Whiteman then scored on a 3-point play with 41.9 seconds to go to make it 50-47, before Jess Monnier had a putback for Houston to make it 50-49 with 21 seconds to go.
Covington’s Lexie Long was then fouled with 18.4 seconds to go and hit two clutch free throws to make it 52-49 — and neither team would score again.
“The kids played played with a lot of heart,” Meyer said. “They’re not very big, but they play hard and are coachable. They’ve done everything we ask them to do.”
Covington had jumped out to an early 9-2 lead behind Crowell and Whiteman.
Whiteman hit two field goals and Crowell added a two and three.
Monnier then took control of the game.
She scored seven points in the final four minutes of the quarter to get Houston within 11-10 after one.
Monnier added five more points in the second quarter and 10 in the third as the Wildcats took a 23-20 lead at halftime and stretched it to 37-29 after three quarters.
It was more of the same early in the fourth quarter, before Covington’s trapping defense turned the tide and rallied the Buccs to victory.
“The girls were dog tired, but they were excited,” Meyer described of his team’s reaction after the game. “The girls said after the game that they believed they could win. That’s all you can ask from your kids.”
Whiteman led Covington with 21 points, including 17 in the second half and 10 in the fourth quarter.
Crowell had 12 points, while Tori Lyle added eight, including a big basket during the rally.
“This is one of the most exciting games I’ve ever coached,” Meyer summarized. “I can’t be more proud of a group of kids than I am of this group for the way they just battled tonight. We knew coming in that their size would give us problems, but our girls found a way to win.”
Covington will be back in action tonight at Fairlawn, while Houston will host Newton.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.