By Rob Kiser
Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki sees the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic as a way to prepare for tournament play.
And if Thursday night was any indication, D-IV opponents better beware.
The Eagles jumped out to a 23-4 lead on Covington, held the Buccs to nine field goals for the game and coasted into the championship game with a 63-31 victory.
Covington, 2-6, will play Lehman Catholic, 2-5, Friday in the consolation game at 6 p.m., followed by Troy Christian, 6-2, and Piqua, 3-4, in the championship game.
“We look at this as a way to get ready for the postseason,” Zawadzki said about the two-day tournament. “We really enjoy playing in it.”
Covington coach Matt Pond couldn’t fault his team effort.
“The kids played hard,” Pond said. “They never quit. Sometime, when you get down like that early, you start putting up quick shots to try and get back in the game. And that is a credit to Troy Christian and the way they executed tonight.”
Troy Christian brought a healthy James Anderson to the floor and that was a problem for Covington.
The 6-foot-9 senior scored six quick points in the opening quarter and finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“I was really excited about the way we came out and executed our offense,” Zawadzki said. “With our offense, want to go inside out. We did a great job of that night. James (Anderson) has been limping around on one leg the last three games. It was great to see him healthy out there tonight.”
Chance Varvel hit three 3-pointers in the opening quarter and added 11 points, while Ben Schenck scored nine and Connor Case added eight.
Zawadzki also noted the play of 6-5 junior Jackson Kremer.
“I know he (Jackson Kremer) doesn’t show up a lot in the boxscore,” Zawadzki said. “But, what he does out there frees James (Anderson) to go after rebounds and you saw the result.”
Covington, who trailed 19-4, 28-10 and 43-17 at the quarter breaks, was led by Braden Miller’s 11 points and Zach Parrett’s five rebounds.
“We just didn’t get a lot of shots to fall,” Pond said. “The kids are working hard. We just have to keep working at it and getting better.”
Troy Christian was 26 of 59 from the floor for 44 percent and five of nine from the line for 56 percent.
Covington was just nine of 45 from the floor for 20 percent, but made 10 of 13 free throws for 77 percent.
Troy Christian won the battle of the boards 44-24 and had eight turnovers to Covington’s 12.
The JV will start things off Friday.
Troy Christian and Lehman will play in the consolation game at 2:30 p.m., followed by Covington and Piqua in the championship game at 4 p.m.
Troy Christian (63)
James Anderson 9-3-21, Colt Tanner 1-1-3, Izaak Frantom 0-0-0, Connor Case 3-1-8, Jackson Kremer 1-0-2, Cameron Strine 3-0-6, Ben Schenck 4-0-9, Chase Varvel 4-0-11, Nathan Scott 0-0-0, Trent Huelskamp 1-0-3. Totals: 26-5-63.
Chad Yohey 2-2-6, Zach Parrett 2-0-5, Nathan Lyle 1-0-2, Gray Harshbarger 0-2-2, Braden Miller 3-3-11, Tyler Fraley 0-0-0, Brad Wiggins 0-0-0, Andrew Cates 1-1-3, Brayden Wiggins 0-0-0, Kleyton Maschino 0-2-2. Totals: 9-10-31.
3-point field goals — Troy Christian: Case, Schenck, Varvel (3), Huelskamp. Covington: Parrett, Miller (2).
Score By Quarters
Troy Christian 19 28 47 63
Covington 4 10 18 31
Records: Troy Christian 6-2, Covington 2-6.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.