By Ben Robinson
NEW MADISON — Fielding a 10-1 record on the season, the Covington Lady Buccs traveled to New Madison to play unbeaten Tri-Village in a huge showdown of Cross County Conference unbeatens.
And despite a gallant effort from top to bottom, the Lady Buccs came up just short on the scoreboard, 57-55 after Tri-Village got hot late to erase and 11-point deficit with five fourth quarter treys.
“They live by the three and die by the three and tonight they died by the three for three-and-a-half quarters,” said Covington coach Jim Meyer. “But threes get you back in the game and they hit some big threes down the stretch.”
Leading 48-37 with 3:54 left in the contest it appeared as though the Lady Buccs were on their way to an impressive win.
But back-to-back threes by Emma Printz and Allie 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 three-pointer for Covington to make it a two-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.
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, hit some big shots throughout the game,” praised Meyer. “Really, everyone played well. But the outcome just wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”
Still, it was a monumental effort for Covington 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 explained. “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 seven and Downing had six.
This forced Tri-Village to find other ways to score, which it did with a combined nine treys from Rachel Miller, Emma Printz and Trina Porter to go along with the one three-pointer made by Downing.
“Late in the game they had some other girls step up for them to hit big shots,” said Meyer. “Good teams find ways to win and they found a way.”
Still, it didn’t take away from an outstanding performance by a Covington team who has been with their new coach for just a little over two months.
“Our girls played well,” praised Meyer. “There are a lot of sad faces in the locker room, but they left it on the floor. I talk all the time about their heart and it showed again tonight.”
Covington was 21 of 51 from the floor for 41 percent, five of 18 from behind the arc for 28 percent and eight 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 three-point range for 37 percent and five of seven from the line for 71 percent.
Covington out rebounded Tri-Village 38-26 overall and held a 15-10 advantage on the offensive glass.
The Lady Buccs, now 10-2 on the season and 5-1 in the CCC, look to rebound Tuesday at home against Milton-Union.