By Rob Kiser
WEST MILTON — Covington girls basketball coach Jim Meyer knows there were a lot of things his team could have done better against Milton-Union Monday night.
But, he also knows his team will always make up for those things with their hustle.
And ultimately, that was enough to hold off a scrappy Milton-Union team down the stretch as the Lady Buccs picked up a 43-35 victory.
Covington improved to 9-4 with the win and Milton-Union dropped 4-7.
“It is tough when don’t do anything on Sunday and then they were off today (Monday from school),” Meyer said. “Under those circumstances, I thought our girls played pretty well. Milton beat us last year, so this is a big win.”
Two of the plays Meyer was talking about happened in the fourth quarter and helped Covington hold on.
With 2:11 remaining and Covington leading 40-35, Jordan Crowell tried to drive in for a reverse layup that was off the mark.
Instead of putting her head down, Crowell hustled down the floor, knocked the ball away from the Milton-Union player towards the sidelines. Sammie Whiteman was able to just save it and tip it to Lillian Hamilton for a change of possession.
At the 1:22 mark, with it still 40-35, Covington missed two free throws, but 5-foot-5 Tori Lyle was able to get the rebound and keep Covington in possession.
Eventually, despite the Buccs going 3-for-11 from the line in the fourth quarter, Whiteman was able to hit two free throws and Crowell one to put the game out of reach.
“That’s the thing,” Meyer said. “These girls are always going to give me everything they have. In spite of some of the things we did, we were able to get the win.”
The game began with Milton-Union coming out in diamond-and-one on Whiteman.
“We had anticipated that,” Meyer said. “But, the thing is there isn’t a lot of good offense to run against a diamond-and-one. We had worked on a few different things.”
But, Crowell hit three 3-pointers in the opening half and Whiteman still scored eight as Covington led 15-12 after one quarter and 25-21 at halftime.
“Those shots by Jordan (Crowell) are what you want to see against that defense,” Meyer said. “And it just helps us so much when she can hit shots like that early in the game.”
Whiteman then scored nine points in the third quarter as Covington took a 38-28 lead to the final eight minutes. Two of those baskets came on cuts to the basket, with assists from Crowell.
“One of the keys was getting down the floor before they could get the defense set up,” Meyer said. “The other thing was I thought we did a good job running the offense and had some nice interior passes for layups.”
Covington missed an opportunity to open up the lead early in the fourth quarter, as the only Covington field goal was a putback by Hamilton with 5:03 to play.
When Milton-Union got 3-pointers from Kristen Dickison and Annika Hutchinson and Dickison added a free throw, Milton-Union got within 40-35 with 3:07 to go.
The Bulldogs would not score again as Covington held on for the win.
“Milton has good shooters,” Meyer said. “You know they have good shooters. All of a sudden, that leads goes down to six with two shots. But, the kids just kept playing hard.”
Whiteman led Covington with 19 points and Crowell added 10.
Dickison led a balanced Bulldog attack with 10 and Beyonce Bobbitt added eight.
Covington returns to action Thursday, traveling to Ansonia in CCC action.
Kenzie Long 2-0-4, Sammi Whiteman 8-3-19, Lillian Hamilton 2-0-4, Jordan Crowell 3-1-10, Tori Lyle 1-2-4, Lauren Christian 1-0-2, Morgan Kimmel 0-0-0. Totals: 17-6-43.
Morgan Nemeth 2-0-4, Annika Hutchinson 2-0-5, Kristen Dickison 2-4-10, Olivia Brown 1-2-4, Beyonce Bobbitt 4-0-8, Abby Hissong 0-0-0, Jayla Gentry 2-0-4. Totals: 13-6-35.
3-point field goals — Covington: Crowell (3). Milton-Union: Hutchinson, Dickison (2).
Score By Quarters
Covington 15 25 38 43
Milton-Union 12 21 28 35
Records: Covington 9-4, Milton-Union 4-7.