By Rob Kiser
The Covington boys basketball team opened a 17-point lead and survived a wild fourth quarter to continue its winning ways in a Green Bracket opening round game at the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic Thursday at Garbry Gymnasium.
The Buccs got past Lehman 58-48 and will play Russia for the Green Bracket title at 7 p.m. Friday.
Lehman, 1-4, and Troy Christian will play in the consolation game at 4 p.m.
The win improved Covington to 5-2 on the season.
“We got a little bit out of our comfort zone,” Covington coach Matt Pond said. “But, that is what happens when a team is desperate and plays with reckless abandon. And that is no knock on Lehman. They came at us with everything they had and at times we didn’t handle it very well.”
With Dylan Arnold and Kameron Lee combining for 20 points in the fourth quarter, Lehman got as close as 52-46 in the final minute before Covington was able to put the game away.
“I thought we did a pretty good job defensively the whole game,” Lehman coach Tim Gleason said. “We just couldn’t get anything going on offense. We had to go to the press to try and create some offense. The kids gave a great effort.”
The game was tied at 8-8 after one quarter.
But, Covington opened the lead to 23-16 at halftime and 41-25 after three quarters.
One key was the 3-point shooting of Nathan Blei, who hit four shots from behind the arc.
“That is a credit to our other kids as well, getting him the ball when he was open,” Pond said.
And the quick hands of Jayce Pond created some easy scoring opportunities as well.
“He had eight of his 10 points in the first half,” Pond said. “He did a great job of using his hands. That is what he needs to do. And Jett Murphy continues to give us solid play at the guard position.”
Trevor Miller also hit two threes in the game.
“I thought our bigs did a nice job and hit some big shots,” Pond said. “We had three guys in double figures.”
Another key was the Buccs deadly free throw shooting.
“I thought that was big,” Pond said. “We made 18 of 22 from the line and we made some big ones when we needed them.”
Blei had a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds to lead Covington, while Miller had 10 points and five rebounds and Pond also scored 10 points.
Lee had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cavaliers, while Arnold scored 15 points.
“The kids gave a great effort,” Gleason said. “We just need to find a way to get the half-court offense going. It was a struggle tonight.”
Covington was 17 of 42 from the floor for 40 percent and 18 of 22 from the line for 82 percent.
Lehman was 19 of 48 from the floor for 40 percent and five of nine from the line for 56 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 26-22 and had 16 turnovers to Lehman’s 19.
Jett Murphy 1-5-7, Jayce Pond 4-2-10, Trevor Miller 4-0-10, Nathan Blei 5-10-24, Kenny Atkinson 2-1-5, Tristin Sowers 1-0-2, Zach Parrett 0-0-0, Adam Lefeld 0-0-0. Totals: 17-18-58.
Jared Magoteaux 2-0-4, Seth Sargent 0-0-0, Preston Rodgers 3-0-6, Dylan Arnold 5-3-15, Kameron Lee 6-2-16, Bryce Kennedy 2-0-5, Jared Rourke 0-0-0, Elliot Gilardi 1-0-2, Logan Richard 0-0-0, Braiden Sherman 0-0-0. Totals: 19-5-48.
3-point field goals — Covington: Miller (2), Blei (4). Lehman: Arnold (2), Lee (2), Kennedy.
Score By Quarters
Covington 8 23 41 58
Lehman 8 16 26 48
Records: Covington 5-2, Lehman 1-4.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.