PITSBURG – Franklin Monroe couldn’t shake Covington for nearly 24 minutes on Friday night, but a late third quarter and early fourth quarter run help propel the Jets to an 80-50 Cross County Conference win and a successful Homecoming celebration.
How do you top a game where you scored 54 points a week ago? Well, for Ethan Conley you help lead a charge to by scoring 18 points in a 3-minute stretch to break away from a 41-41 tie to help your team take control of the game on your way to game high of 37 points.
Add to that Conley was crowned Homecoming King along with Kirsten Zink being crowned Homecoming Queen during the pre-game ceremonies.
Then post-game you get presented a basketball to commemorate the 54-point performance from the week before in all it was a pretty good night for Conley and Franklin Monroe.
The final score 80-50 was a little misleading for the fact Covington came ready to play and for three quarters made it a ballgame. Covington held a two-point lead 41-39 with 3 minutes to play in the third quarter when the Jets decided to change it up.
“We changed tempo in the third,” Franklin Monroe basketball coach Troy Myers said. “I thought our guys were super aggressive and got a lot of points in transition, which really helped our cause. When you go up 53 to 43 at the end of the third after it was tied at 41, that’s a credit to the kids. With a minute-and-a-half in the third I called a timeout and I said, ‘Let’s run’. And a minute-and-a-half into the fourth we were up 20.”
In that run Conley scored 18 points to spearhead a 37-5 run including three 3-pointers to blow the game wide open early in the final stanza and the Buccs were never able to respond after that.
“We fought with foul trouble a lot tonight,” said Covington basketball coach Matt Pond. “That’s the thing, they expanded the lead and we took some quick shots that maybe weren’t the best shots we could take at the time. But it’s because these kids are playing their butts off, so I’ll take it.”
Covington had a good game plan and tried to slow Conley down by running two defenders at him most of the night and put two of their toughest defenders on him with Andrew Cates and Gray Harshbarger who both ended up fouling out of the contest.
Early on FM looked like they might run away with the game as Conley scored 9 points with most coming in the last few minutes of the first quarter including a buzzer beater from over 30 feet out to put the Jets up 21-9.
Covington though battled back and worked it to a tie 29-29 before the Jets expanded the lead to 33-29 at the break.
In the third quarter the Buccs came out firing behind Kleyton Maschino with a triple and fielders from a couple other Buccaneers to battle back and tie the game at 41-41.
But that’s when the Jets turned it up a notch to pull away.
“I was really pleased with the way our kids handled the adversity Covington presented and the way we responded,” Myers praised. “They were running two (defenders) at Ethan all night. We knew this was coming this year, obviously with Ethan carrying the load, so we’ve been stressing to Ethan, ‘Let’s grow your game and expand with the team’. He’s reading the floor really well when those traps come and recognizing what the defense is giving him.”
Covington coach Matt Pond was pleased with his teams’ effort and saw good things from that.
“You can’t take anything away from our kids’ effort tonight. We pushed the ball up the floor in transition better than we have to this point. We just struggled to hit some shots in the fourth quarter,” Pond said.
“When you look at it, we were right there with them until we got into foul trouble,” Pond explained. “He (Conley) is a great player, and there is no doubt about that, but I’m proud of how hard our kids play. If we keep playing with this same intensity and this same attitude, things will start going our way.”
Covington was led by Maschino with 12 points and Zach Kunts had 10. The defeat drops Covington to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the CCC with the next contest slated for next Tuesday at home against rival Bradford.
Franklin Monroe was led by Conley with 37, Jackson Crist 12 and Connor Crist with 9 points. The Jets improve to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the CCC and travels to Bethel next Tuesday in a key early season conference match-up.
Score by quarters:
Covington – Maschino 12, Kunts 10, Yohey 8, Fraley 7, Harshbarger 5, Brumbaugh 2, Cates 2, Shell 1, Presser 1, Hamilton 1, Barhorst 1. Totals 4-10-16/20 – 50
FM: Conley 37, J. Crist 12, C. Crist 9, Vance 8, Rhoades 6, Cool 4, Booher 4. Totals 7-22-14/27 – 80
Covington: 4 (Kuntz 2, Maschino 1, Fraley 1)
Franklin Monroe: 7 (Conley 4, Vance 2, C. Crist 1)