By Rob Kiser
HOUSTON — It was a Covington basketball team looking to build on the momentum of a big win over Miami East Friday night.
And a Houston team continuing a building process under first-year coach Brad Francis.
In the end, Covington was able to continue that momentum with a 47-37 win over Houston — but not without a four-quarter battle from the Wildcats.
“I know they only have one win, but they pushed Russia to the buzzer Friday night,” Covington coach Matt Pond said. “That team is a lot better than their record. Brad (Francis) and his staff are really doing a nice job.”
For Francis, it is a matter of getting those elusive Ws.
“The kids gave me a great effort,” Francis said. “They battled the whole game. Right now, we are just having a hard time getting over the hump.”
With Trevor Miller scoring 11 points in the first 13 minutes, Covington was in front front 25-15 after a putback by Kenny Atkinson with 2:08 remaining in the half.
“Trevor (Miller) got us off to a good start on a Tuesday night,” Pond said. “I think we had a 10-point lead at one point in the first half.”
Houston finished the half on a 7-1 run to get within 26-22.
Noah Shoemaker hit a three, Cameron Arnold scored and Caleb Sluss added a basket.
“We started out wanting to push the tempo,” Pond said. “But, the Arnold kid was doing a good job of that for them. He was going to be tough to handle if we continued that.”
The Wildcats made just one of seven free throws in the first half.
“We were down four and it felt like we should have been up 10,” Francis said. “Between the missed free throws and turnovers…”
Nathan Blei opened the second half with a three, but against Houston rallied.
A pivotal point came late in the third quarter after an Arnold basket cut the Covington lead to 31-28.
Houston came down on three straight possessions down three and couldn’t score.
“And we got some good looks,” Francis said. “We just can’t get over the hump.”
Then, Jett Murphy drilled a three just before the third quarter buzzer to make it 34-28.
“That was a huge shot by Jett (Murphy) at that point,” Pond said. “He had a nice game tonight with 13 points.”
Francis still felt good about the situation.
“Trevor Miller and Nathan Blei had 18 points between them going to the fourth quarter,” Francis said. “That is not bad for the two leading scorers.”
Blei opened the fourth quarter with a three and score nine points in the final eight minutes, along with two layups from Murphy when he got behind the Houston press.
“Nathan (Blei) had another solid game and had some timely baskets for us,” Pond said. “But, give Houston credit. They battled the whole game.”
Blei scored 16 points to lead the Buccs.
Murphy added 13 points and six rebounds, Miller had 11 points and five rebounds and Atkinson grabbed nine rebounds.
Arnold led Houston with a double-double, with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Noah Shoemaker scored nine and Howie Ludwig added eight.
Covington was 16 of 40 from the floor for 40 percent and nine of 15 from the line for 60 percent.
Houston was 16 of 45 from the floor for 36 percent and one of seven from the line for 14 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 28-22 and had nine turnovers to Houston’s 11.
The Buccs, 8-5 travel to Fairlawn Friday.
Houston, 1-11, has Anna Friday and Franklin Monroe Saturday.
Jett Murphy 6-0-13, Jayce Pond 1-0-2, Trevor Miller 3-3-11, Nathan Blei 4-5-16, Kenny Atkinson 2-0-4, Zach Parrett 0-0-0, Tristin Sowers 0-1-1. Totals: 16-9-47.
Noah Shoemaker 4-0-9, Isaac Beaver 1-0-2, Howie Ludwig 3-0-8, Cameron Arnold 6-0-13, Dylan Hensley 0-0-0, John Leist 0-1-1, Caleb Sluss 2-0-4, Sage Bryant 0-0-0, Tristin Freistuhler 0-0-0. Totals: 16-1-37.
3-point field goals — Covington: Murphy, Miller (2), Blei (3). Houston: Shoemaker, Ludwig (2), Arnold.
Score By Quarters
Covington 16 26 34 47
Houston 11 22 28 37
Records: Covington 8-5, Houston 1-11.
Reserve score: Covington 50, Houston 47, OT.