By Rob Kiser
RUSSIA — The Covington girls basketball team had the hot hand in the early going.
But, eventually, the Russia girls used their size advantage to take control and post a 54-45 victory over Covington Monday in non-conference action.
Ryan Horner came out on fire for the Lady Buccs and after her third 3-pointer in the first 12 minutes, Covington led 21-13 midway through the second quarter. The Buccs also got a four-point play from Jessie Crowell in the opening quarter.
But, just as quickly, Russia tied the game at 21, before a Lexie Long basket gave Covington a 25-23 lead at the break.
“Early on, I thought our offense was feeding off our defense,” Covington coach Craig Maschino said. “We play so much better when we communicate on defense.”
And the messages was a simple one for Russia coach Tim Hatcher, who got 13 points from guard Maria Herron in the opening half.
“We talked about doing a better job passing the ball and not just settling for outside shots against their zone,” Hatcher said. “We had an advantage in length and we wanted to take advantage of that.”
The Lady Raiders executed that plan to perfection in the second half.
Six-foot 1 freshman Laurissa Poling had four points on putbacks in the third quarter and 6-foot sophomore Cameo Wilson had two big baskets in the fourth quarter as Russia took a 37-32 lead after three quarters and was able to keep Covington at bay in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Raiders finished the game with a 16 offensive rebounds and a 15-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“I thought our offensive execution in the second half was outstanding,” Hatcher said. “That was exactly what we talked about at halftime.”
Maschino was disappointed with what he saw in the last two quarters.
“Their offensive rebounding was a big difference in the game,” he said. “There was twice in a row in the fourth quarter we didn’t box out on missed free throws and they took advantage. Everyone on the bench was communicating, but we had five girls out there quiet as a mouse. It just comes down to intensity.”
Russia didn’t need many second chances from the line in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Raiders made 13 of 18 free throws in the final eight minutes, with Whitney Pleiman hitting six of eight and Tiffany Hatcher making four of six.
“Whitney (Pleiman) stepped up an really did an outstanding job,” Hatcher said. “She made some big free throws.”
Herron had 18 points for Russia, who who won its sixth in a row to improve to 9-6.
Whitney Pleiman had 12 points, while Jenna Cordonnier and Wilson grabbed seven rebounds each.
Horner led Covington, 10-5, with 12 points. Jessie Crowell netted 10 and Brooke Gostomsky had nine points and seven rebounds.
Russia was 14 of 42 from the floor and 20 of 29 from the line, while Covington was 17 of 43 from the floor and five of eight from the line.
Russia won the battle of the boards 28-21 and had 10 turnovers to Covington’s 11.
Arianna Richards 0-0-0, Brooke Gostomsky 4-1-9, Rayna Horner 4-0-12, Sammi Whiteman 3-1-8, Jessie Crowell 3-3-10, Tori Lyle 0-0-0, Carly Shell 1-0-2, Lexie Long 2-0-4, Jordan Crowell 0-0-0. Totals: 17-5-45.
Laurissa Poling 2-1-5, Tiffany Hatcher 0-6-6, Cameo Wilson 2-1-5, Whitney Pleiman 2-6-12, Maria Herron 6-2-18, Jenna Corodnnier 2-4-8, Lauren Monnin 0-0-0, Cassie Pleiman 0-0-0, Kylee Sherman 0-0-0. Totals: 14-20-54.
3-point field goals — Covington: Horner (4), Whiteman, Jessie Crowell. Russia: Whitney Pleiman (2), Herron (4).
Score By Quarters
Covington 13 25 32 45
Russia 9 23 37 54
Records: Covington 10-5, Russia 9-6.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.