By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON — For the Covington girls basketball team, Thursday night was all about the seniors.
For Miami East, it was about finding a way to score.
And in the end, the Buccs defense was the difference in a 42-22 victory over the Vikings as Covington improved to 14-4 and 9-1 in the CCC with a big non-conference game with Jackson Center Saturday.
“I have to say something about the seniors,” Meyer said about Senior Night. “I have four healthy seniors and they all made big plays. Lexie Long just continues to make big plays at both ends of the floor, Justice Warner had a couple big steals and baskets, Addison Metz hit a big three and a runner and Allison Angle hit a couple nice shots.”
Kara Schaffer was cleared to go in for the final 30 seconds as long as she avoided contact. She had season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this year.
“It was nice to get Kara (Schaffer) in there,” Meyer said. “She has been at every practice. She is in there in the locker room at halftime. I think it meant a lot to her to get out there. Sammi (Whiteman) told me she had never beaten Miami East, so that is a big deal to get this win.”
East dropped to 7-10 overall and 5-5 in the CCC despite what coach Bruce Vanover would have to consider a pretty good effort on the defensive end. But, the Lady Vikings made just nine field goals in the game.
“I thought we played good defense at time in the first quarter,” Vanover said. “In the second half, we went to a box-and-one (on Sammi Whiteman). You know, holding a team to 16 points in the second half is going to keep you in the game. But, like we discussed after the game. Even if we held them to 16 points in each half, they still would have won the game.”
And it didn’t start out that way.
The teams were trading baskets early and the game was tied 10-10 after a Haley Howard basket at the 3:15 mark.
The Vikings would not make another field goal until a Bailey Miller drive to the basket with 3:48 to go in the third quarter. By, that time, Covington had opened a 28-12 lead.
“Early on, we were doing a good job getting the ball to Amber (Kinnison) in the short corner,” Vanover said. “I think I called a timeout when it was 10-10. That always seems to happen after I call timeouts — I am going to have to stop doing that.”
Whiteman closed the first quarter with her second and third threes of the game to make it 16-10.
Then, with four seniors on the floor for much of the second quarter, Covington stretched the lead to 26-12 at the break and took it from there.
“I was really pleased when we opened it up, it was when the seniors were in there,” Meyer said. “They were responsible for that.”
Meyer was most pleased with the defensive effort in a game where points seemed hard to come by.
“These kids are just so coachable,” he said. “They understand what you tell them, then they go out and do exactly what you say. Miami East has some dangerous 3-point shooters and we didn’t give any of those up. We have a tendency to do that late and we didn’t tonight.”
Vanover felt his team’s offensive struggles affected the defense.
“I think when you are scoring, that gives you a little more energy on the defensive end and that didn’t happen tonight.”
Whiteman had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Covington.
Howard had 11 points and eight rebounds for Miami East, while Kinnison also grabbed eight rebounds.
Covington was 16 of 38 from the floor for 42 percent and five of 11 from the line for 45 percent.
East was nine of 35 from the floor for 26 percent and four of seven from the line for 57 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 27-20 and had 16 turnovers to East’s 18.
East also has a tough assignment Saturday, hosting Fort Loramie.
The Vikings will look to get untracked offensively, while the Buccs will hope to ride the momentum of a Senior Night to remember.
Miami East (22)
Bailey Miller 2-1-5, Gabrielle Hawkins 0-0-0, Emily Hawkins 1-0-2, Amber Kinnison 2-0-4, Haley Howard 4-3-11, Camryn Miller 0-0-0, Kaitlyn Mack 0-0-0, Maria Staton 0-0-0, Sage Hunley 0-0-0. Totals: 9-4-22.
Lexie Long 2-0-4, Sammi Whiteman 5-3-16, Justice Warner 2-0-4, Jordan Crowell 1-0-3, Tori Lyle 1-2-4, Addison Metz 2-0-5, Allison Angle 2-0-4, Lauren Christian 1-0-2, Lillian Hamilton 0-0-0, Kara Schaffer 0-0-0, Mackenzie Long 0-0-0. Totals: 16-5-42.
3-point field goals — Whiteman (3), Crowell, Metz.
Score By Quarters
Miami East 10 12 16 22
Covington 16 26 30 42
Records: Covington 14-4 (9-1), Miami East 7-10 (5-5).