NEW MADISON – It was a tournament like atmosphere at the Battleground where the last two undefeated girls’ basketball teams in the Cross County Conference, Tri-Village and Covington squared off on Thursday night.
Both teams came in undefeated in the league and both had just one loss overall at 12-1. It was a defensive gem by both squads, but when the night was over it was the Patriots who had earned a hard fought 44-35 win over the Buccaneers.
Tri-Village improved to 7-0 in the conference to go up a half game in front of the Buccs and Miami East both sitting at 7-1.
Tri-Village still has a couple of big games looming in the CCC with Arcanum and Miami East.
The game between Covington and Tri-Village was a chess match between two quality coaches.
Buccaneers coach Jim Meyer’s strategy was to take away the Patriots leading scorer Lissa Siler, who was averaging 15 points a game. They did that by playing a diamond and one throughout and held Siler to just 2 points for the game.
On the flip side, Tri-Village coach Brad Gray was concerned about slowing down All-State guard Sammi Whiteman, who was averaging 22 points a game. The Patriots held her to 12 points, 10 below her average and that would end up being the difference in the game.
Tri-Village went up 11-5 in the first quarter and got 6 points from Meghan Downing in the paint.
The points were even harder to come by in the second quarter as the Buccaneers closed the gap on a drive to the tin by Whiteman to make it 15-13 by the two-minute mark.
Maddie Downing gave TV a little breathing room with a hard 3-pointer to go up 18-13 at the half.
“We struggled shooting the ball early. If we could have made a few more perimeter shots it may have changed the way they were guarding us tonight,” Gray said.
In the second half the Patriots made a better effort of getting into the paint and taking advantage with their size getting some big offensive rebounds for second chance points.
Andi Bietry would extend the lead 20-14 to start the second half with a runner in the lane.
The Patriots went to work getting one-on-one match-ups inside with Meghan and Maddie Downing, both did some damage. Meghan had 7 points including a big triple as the Patriots went up 31-24 by the end of the third quarter.
“Our kids did a really good job for a stretch in the third quarter of finding our one-on-one match-ups in the post and we capitalized on most of those,” Gray commented.
The Patriots continued to keep the pressure on Covington with Emma Printz hitting a big triple early in the fourth quarter from the deep corner, right in front of the student section bringing them to life. It brought the home crowd to their feet as well, as the Patriots went up 35-26.
Covington made another run at TV, but it was Siler who came up with a big steal and the lay-up to stop their momentum late in the game.
Tri-Village’s defense remained solid the rest of way to help them secure the win.
“We missed shots early, but got some big ones to go down when we needed them tonight,” Gray said.
“The one Meghan Downing hit at the top of the key in the third quarter and then the corner three by Emma in the fourth quarter was also huge,” Gray added.
“But in my mind the play of the game probably was when Lissa Siler got the steal and turned it into a lay-up, that was a huge momentum change that really got us going,” Gray praised.
“Lissa might have been taken away on offense tonight, but she really did a good job along with Andi Bietry in locking down Covington’s Sammi Whiteman. Emma keyed in on Claudia Harrington and then our two big’s Maddie and Meghan were left to guard the other three players and we executed our defensive game plan well tonight,” Gray stated.
“Tonight’s game was like a regional tournament style basketball game. Both of us were in the regionals last year and when you get to that level the game isn’t always pretty in the way you win,” Gray said.
“It’s a few plays here or there that usually can break a game open and that’s what I think our kids understand. You just have to stay the course. We missed some easy bunnies and some wide open looks from the perimeter, but we’re confident eventually they’re going to fall, and they understand you can’t let frustrations get the best of you in these moments. That’s how we persevered tonight.”
“We don’t even have time to enjoy this win because we turn around and play East Saturday morning and they have a really good player comparable to Sammi Whiteman in Morgan Haney. She is the returning conference player of the year and is going to be a Division I college basketball player, so we’ll have our hands full there as well,” Gray concluded.
Meghan Downing led all scorers with 14 points. Maddie Downing had 12 and Emma Printz 9 for the Patriots. Whiteman led Covington with 12, Morgan Lowe 8 and Lauren Christian 7.
Score by quarters:
Covington – Lowe 1-2-1/2 – 8, Whiteman 0-4-4/5 – 12, Hamilton 0-1-0/0 – 2, Kimmel 0-1-0/4 – 2, Harrington 0-1-0/0 – 2, Maschino 0-1-0/0 – 2, Christian 0-3-1/2 – 7. Totals 1-13-6/13 – 35.
Tri-Village – Printz 2-1-1/2 – 9, Me Downing 1-4-3/7 – 14, P. Bietry 0-1-0/0 – 2, A. Bietry 0-1-3/5 – 5, Siler 0-1-0/2 – 2, Ma Downing 0-4-4/5 – 12. Totals 3-12-11/21 – 44.
3-pointers – Covington: 1 (Lowe), Tri-Village: 3 (Printz 2, Me. Downing 1)
Records: Covington (12-2, 7-1), Tri-Village (13-1, 7-0)