NEW MADISON – It was a battle of the unbeaten in the Cross County Conference when 10-1 Covington paid Tri-Village a visit on Thursday.
For nearly three and half quarters it looked like the Buccs were going to go home with a big win, but like New Madison’s own favorite son and Olympic bronze medalist the Patriots used the Murphy kick to outpace Covington in the end to escape with a dramatic 57-55 win.
“They live by the 3 and die by the 3, and tonight they died by the 3 for three-and-a-half quarters,” Covington girls basketball coach Jim Meyer said of Tri-Village. “But 3s get you back in the game.”
Trailing by 13 points with almost three minutes to play the Patriots started to chip into the lead.
Tri-Village connected on five straight triples in the last couple of minutes – two by Emma Printz and one each by Trisa Porter, Rachel Miller and Allie Downing.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Printz and Downing gave the Patriots new life, and two minutes later Tri-Village had tied the score at 52-52.
Another trey by Printz and a stick back by Danika Mann gave Tri-Village a 57-52 lead with 29 seconds left, but Jordan Crowell quickly answered with a 3-pointer for Covington to make it a 2-point game with 18 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession Covington forced a Tri-Village turnover, giving the Lady Buccs the ball with 12.9 left on the clock.
And Covington went to what had worked throughout the contest – putting the ball into the hands of sophomore Sammi Whiteman.
“Sammi Whitman was a handful for us all night. She is the best player will play against all year. No disrespect to anybody else … that’s just how much respect I have for her and her game. We told our kids all week long what to expect, but you just can’t simulate it until you see it firsthand. She is very difficult to guard and a very special player,” Tri-Village coach Brad Gray said.
Whitman, who had scored a game-high 18 points, was looking for two more, but her shot from the baseline bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.
“Sammi played a great game and Jordan played well, too. She hit some big shots throughout the game,” Meyer said. “Really, everyone played well. But the outcome just wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”
Still, it was a monumental effort for Covington – playing in a gym where it is tough to win against a good basketball team.
“We thought we had a great game plan going in, and the girls executed it to perfection,” Meyer said. “We held Danika Mann and Allie Downing in check, and that was our primary focus going in.”
Covington held to duo to just 13 combined points as Mann had 7 and Downing had 6.
“Give Covington credit, their defense took us out of our game, and we didn’t shoot the ball the way we normally do. They are the ones who got us disorganized and frazzled at times tonight when our shots weren’t falling,” Gray said.
This forced Tri-Village to find other ways to score, which it did with a combined nine treys from Miller, Printz and Porter to go along with the one 3-pointer made by Downing.
“Late in the game they had some other girls step up for them to hit big shots,” Meyer said. “Good teams find ways to win, and they found a way.”
“When we got down by 9 points late in the fourth quarter I looked at my assistant coach and said ‘we’re done.’”
“Covington had some kids step up and make big time shots in big moments in the game they normally don’t hit, and that’s a credit to the confidence they have and how good Coach Jim Meyer has them playing right now … and to do that in such a short time is a credit to him. Covington is a dangerous team right now,” Gray said.
“To our kids credit they found a way. What we did is play like champions and found a way to win it in the end,” Gray concluded.
Printz led the way for the Patriots with 16 points, Miller 14 and Porter 10 points.
Covington was 21-of-51 from the floor for 41 percent, 5-of-18 from behind the arc for 28 percent and 8-of-12 from the free throw line for 67 percent.
Tri-Village converted on 21-of-57 shots from the floor for 37 percent, 10-of-27 from 3-point range for 37 percent and 5-of-7 from the line for 71 percent.
Covington out-rebounded Tri-Village 38-26 overall and held a 15-10 advantage on the offensive glass.
Covington dropped to 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the CCC.
The Patriots improved to 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the conference and will play at Brookville Monday night.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
Tri-Village …14 … 08 …0 9 … 26 – 57
Covington … 12 … 11 .. 11 … 21 – 55
Rachel Miller – 14
Edie Morris – 2
Emma Printz – 16
Trina Porter – 10
Allie Downing – 6
Lauren Flory – 2
Danika Mann – 7
Lexie Long – 4
Sammi Whiteman – 18
Justice Warner – 8
Jordan Crowell – 16
Tori Lyle – 8
Lauren Christian – 1
Tri-Village 10 (Miller 4, Printz 3, Porter 2, Downing 1)
Covington – 5 (Crowell 4, Whiteman 1)