By Ben Robinson
ARCANUM — Covington held Arcanum to just three buckets on 11 attempts from inside the paint and connected on 14 of 27 of its own shots close to the rim, but still found itself needing to hit a big shot down the stretch to escape with a 43-41 win.
And the big shot came from senior Trevor Miller, who had struggled throughout the contest with just two points on a basket in the third quarter.
But good shooters find a way to hit big shots in the clutch and Miller did just that by canning a trey from the corner with 11 seconds left to give Covington a 43-41 lead after Arcanum had erased a 28-17 halftime deficit.
Nathan Blei then pulled down a long rebound on the ensuing Arcanum possession to secure the Buccaneer win.
It was a game of runs as Covington jumped out to a 13-8 lead with under a minute left in the first quarter only to see the lead evaporate in a hurry with back-to-back treys by Wade Meeks to put Arcanum up 14-13 after one.
Covington then dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Trojans 15-3 in the frame thanks to a pair of runners by Nathan Blei, a short jumper by Tristin Sowers and a seven-point period by Jayce Pond on two layups and a trey.
Arcanum’s only points of the stanza came on a three-pointer by Devin Burns as Covington held a 28-17 lead at the break.
Having already converted on four three-pointers, Arcanum continued launching bombs in the second half against Covington’s tight zone.
And the strategy got the Trojans back into the game as Carter Gray and Wills Troutwine combined to score all 12 of Arcanum’s third period points on four treys to close the game to 34-29 with one quarter to go.
Jett Murphy got Covington rolling with a runner to start the period and then Nathan Blei followed with a layup to push the lead to nine, but Arcanum’s Carter Gray reclaimed the momentum for the home team with back-to-back three bombs to close the gap to 38-35.
A rare bucket inside by Andrew Baker close the gap to one, but Covington’s Nathan Blei hit on two free throws to give Covington some cushion, 40-37.
Carter Gray hit a free throw on the front end of a one-and-one and then Wade Meeks followed by hitting a clutch trey to give the Trojans their first lead since the first quarter, 41-40 with under one minute to play.
After a timeout by Covington, the Buccaneers went to work trying to get the ball inside. While driving to the basket, Jayce Pond found Miller all alone on the right wing. Miller spotted up and calmly hit nothing but net to give Covington a 43-41 lead with 11 seconds to go.
Arcanum quickly called a timeout once it moved the ball past mid-court to set up its offense for a potential game-winning shot with 8.6 seconds left.
Covington followed with a timeout of its own to set up its defense after seeing the Trojans’ alignment for the inbounds play.
After the gamesmanship by both coaches, action resumed with the Trojans inbounding the basketball and attempted a contested long-range three that bounced long off the rim into the hands of Nathan Blei, who killed the clock.
In all, Covington converted on 17 of 36 shot attempts from the floor for 47 percent and was 3-of-9 from behind the arc for 33 percent. The Buccaneers went to the free throw line for seven attempts and made six for 86 percent.
Defensively, the Buccaneers played as well as it possibly could in controlling the action close to the basket as it held Arcanum to just three field goals inside the paint – all coming from Andrew Baker.
But Arcanum was able to keep itself in the game with its long range shooting as it made 11 of 27 three-point attempts for 41 percent.
The Trojans were just 2 of 7 from the free throw line for 29 percent and 14 of 38 from the floor for 37 percent.
Covington held a 28-20 advantage on the boards and had seven turnovers to eight for Arcanum.
The Buccaneers were led in scoring by Nathan Blei and Jayce Pond, who both scored 13 points.
Arcanum was led by Carter Gray, who also scored 13 points.
It all led to a too-close-for-comfort 43-41 win for the Buccs, who improve to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the CCC.