By Ben Robinson
PLEASANT HILL — It was a rematch between Route 48 rivals Covington and Newton on Friday as the two teams met previously in the year with the Buccaneers pulling out a 62-45 win on their home floor.
But that contest played on December 13th seems like a long time ago as a lot has happened since these two teams went head-to-head.
For Covington, the previous win over Newton was the beginning of a season’s best five-game winning streak. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers have only managed to win four of the last 11 games since then and were coming off of two rough outings against Coldwater and Tri-Village.
Needing to reclaim some momentum into the final stretch of the regular season, the opportunity to get up for a rival Newton squad was just what the Buccaneers needed.
And Covington did just that by capturing a 65-49 win in a game that was nearly a duplicate of the first game where Newton hung close early only to see the Buccaneers gradually separate themselves on the scoreboard over the final three quarters.
Newton came out on fire to start the game as their first three shot attempts hit nothing but net from behind the arc – one by Ryan Mollette and two by Jackson Riffle. The Indians eventually built an 18-13 lead to force a Covington timeout.
And Covington responded with a runner by Nathan Blei and back-to-back treys by Trevor Miller to close out the opening frame with a slim 19-18 Buccaneer advantage.
Covington kept the momentum rolling in the second by scoring the first nine points of the frame to cap a 17-0 run and push the advantage to 30-18 with 3:00 left in the half.
Coming up big in the run was senior Tristin Sowers, who scored eight of his 10 points in a span of five minutes.
Mollette ended the run for Newton with his second trey of the game and then Treg Jackson followed with another three-pointer to close the gap to 30-24.
The Indians then closed the gap to 34-29 before Nathan Blei gave Covington some momentum heading into the locker room with a trey at the buzzer.
Leading 37-29 coming out of the break, the Buccaneers used their significant size and strength advantage inside to put some separation on the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Trevor Miller and Nathan Blei combined to score 13 of the 17 third quarter points put up by Covington as the Buccaneers increased their advantage to 54-40 with one quarter to play.
With the clock on its side, Covington used every possession in the fourth quarter to take time off the clock.
The strategy worked as the Buccaneers consistently broke down the Newton defense to find easy buckets on back-door cuts – two by Trevor Miller and another by Nathan Blei.
Braden Miller came in late to hit a three-pointer, but by then the outcome was already determined.
Covington had four players score in double figures with Blei leading the way with a game-high 18 points and Trevor Miller finishing just one point shy with 17. Jayce Pond dropped in 11 and Tristin Sowers finished with 10 off the bench.
Ryan Mollette led Newton with 13 points on four treys and a free throw, while Jackson Riffle had 13 as well.
Covington improves to 10-9 on the season and 7-4 in the CCC.
The Buccaneers look to keep the momentum rolling on Tuesday at home against New Bremen in a make-up game from earlier in the year.