By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON — Covington checked all the boxes Jim Meyer was looking for against Division I Greenville Thursday night.
And in the end, the Lady Buccs headed into Saturday’s showdown with Newton with a 50-33 victory.
Covington improved to 11-5, while Greenville dropped to 9-6.
“Greenville is a good team,” Meyer said. “They are feisty. They play in the GWOC. That guard (Morgan Gilbert) played like an All-American. I felt like everyone on our team did something in this game to contribute to the win.”
As big as anything was the play of Covington’s post players.
Tori Lyle nearly had a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, Lilly Hamilton had eight points and six blocked shots and Lauren Christian gave them some valuable minutes off the bench.
“I thought Tori (Lyle) and Lauren (Christian) got some big rebounds,” Meyer said. “Lillian (Hamilton) is starting to understand what she needed to do on defense.”
Hamilton blocked those shots without drawing a foul, picking up just one late in the game.
“Early in the season, she was drawing fouls,” Meyer said. “She is starting to understand now how to block the shots without getting called for fouls. It is great to have a rim protector.”
And, as you might expect, Sammi Whiteman shined at what would be the pivotal moment of the game.
After Lyle had scored six points in the first quarter and Jordan Crowell hit a three, the Lady Buccs led 13-7.
But, Greenville countered with the first seven points of the the second quarter to go up 14-13.
Jada Garland hit a three and Cassie Cromwell and Gilbert had baskets for the Green Wave.
“That’s what can happen against Greenville,” Meyer said. “They hit a three and make a couple shots and all of a sudden you are behind.”
Two steals by Whiteman led to five quick points — she hit a three and had a layup — and Covington had an 18-14 lead they would never relinquish.
She scored 12 of Covington’s 13 second-quarter points as the Lady Buccs took a 26-17 lead at the break and finished with a game-high 22.
“Sammi (Whiteman) did step up there,” Meyer said. “We had the nine-point lead and I asked them at halftime to keep pushing it (making it bigger) and they did that in the second half.”
Covington opened a 43-28 lead after three quarters and maintained that margin in the fourth quarter. Crowell added six points to the Covington cause.
Gilbert finished with 11 points for Greenville, while Garland and Cromwell both scored nine.
“Coming off the game with Russia Tuesday (a two-point loss) and having a non-conference game, we didn’t do a whole lot yesterday,” Meyer said. “I thought under the circumstances , we handled everything pretty well. It was just a really good team win.”
Which was the most important box of all to check.
Payton Brandenburg 0-0-0, Lani Shilt 0-0-0, Saki Nakamura 1-0-3, Morgan Gilbert 5-0-11, Jada Garland 3-0-9, Haleigh Mayo 0-0-0, Koryann Elliott 0-1-1, Cassie Cromwell 4-1-9. Totals: 13-2-33.
Kenzie Long 0-2-2, Sammi Whiteman 9-3-22, Lillian Hamilton 3-2-8, Jordan Crowell 2-0-6, Tori Lyle 5-0-10, Lauren Christian 1-0-2, Morgan Lowe 0-0-0. Totals: 20-7-50.
3-point field goals — Greenville: Nakamura, Gilbert, Garland (3). Covington: Whiteman, Crowell (2).
Score By Quarters
Greenville 7 17 28 33
Covington 13 26 43 50
Records: Greenville 9-6, Covington 11-5.
Reserve score: Greenville 34, Covington 19.