By Rob Kiser
Lehman Catholic boys basketball coach Tim Gleason is looking for someone to step up an make a play.
Covington’s Braden Miller did just that for the Buccaneers in the consolation game of the WPTW Holiday Classic Friday night at Garbry Gymnasium.
Miller, a 6-foot-1 senior, hit a 3-pointer from the left side with less than 10 seconds remaining to give the Buccs a 47-46 win, capping a night where he scored 22 points.
Lehman Catholic called timeout with 3.8 seconds to go, but a final shot was off the mark.
Covington improved 3-6 on the season, while Lehman dropped to 2-6.
“My teammates just did a great job all night,” Miller said. “I have to thank them. Andrew (Cates) set a great screen, and they got me the ball.”
Covington had the ball under its own basket with 16.1 seconds left after calling a timeout.
“That (the shot by Miller) was one of the options we talked about during the timeout,” Covington coach Matt Pond said. “What a screen by Andrew Cates. He has kind of gone back-and-forth (between JV and varsity). What a play by a sophomore, and Braden (Miller) had a big game for us.”
After taking a pass from Lyle, Miller’s shot was perfect —although he wasn’t so sure.
“Honestly, I thought it was off,” he said with a smile. “I was hoping my teammates would have my back for a rebound. But fortunately, it went in.”
It was a tough ending for Gleason to stomach.
“Give the kid credit for hitting the shot,” Gleason said. “But this was very disappointing … very disappointing. We just lose one close game after another. We just need somebody to step up and make a play. At some point, somebody is going to have to step up and be a leader.”
Actually, in a game that was close from the outset, with Covington leading 12-10 after one quarter, a 25-25 tie at half and Lehman leading 36-35 after three quarters, it looked like the Cavaliers might have gotten that play in the final minute.
With the game tied at 44-44, Kameron Lee flicked the ball away from Covington, and Preston Rodgers grabbed the ball and laid it in with 28 seconds to go to put Lehman up 46-44.
For a Covington team coming off a tough loss to eventual champion Troy Christian the night before, that could have been devastating blow — but they weren’t going to be denied.
“The kids just found a way,” Pond said. “They didn’t let that play bother them. It says a lot about our kids after the Troy Christian game — and it says a lot about them after the turnover. I am really proud of them.”
Zach Parrett had six rebounds for Covington, while Miller, Lyle and Gray Harshbarger all had five.
“We just gave way too many offensive rebounds,” Gleason said. “You can’t give a team that many opportunities. And we were zero for 13 on 3-point attempts.”
Lee led Lehman with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Elliott Gilardi scored 16 points and Bryce Kennedy pulled down six rebounds.
Covington was 20 of 53 from the floor for 38 percent and two of six from the line for 33 percent.
Lehman was 19 of 49 from the floor for 39 percent and eight of 14 from the line for 57 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 30-26, but had 11 turnovers to Lehman’s seven.
Covington will play at Milton-Union Tuesday, while Lehman will host Riverside Friday.
Miller and Gilardi were named to the all-tournament team, while Miller and Lehman’s Ryan Schmidt were the WPTW scholarship winners.
After the Buccs delivered the game-changing play the Cavaliers are still looking for.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.