By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
CASSTOWN — There may not have been any titles on the line.
Then again, there didn’t need to be.
When the Covington boys basketball team traveled to Miami East Friday night, the two teams played with the intensity of one of the biggest games of the year in front of a packed gym — and it wasn’t until Miami East’s last shot was off the mark that Covington came away with a 49-47 victory.
Covington improved to 3-9 overall and 3-5 in the Cross County Conference, while Miami East dropped to 7-8 overall and 4-3 in the CCC.
“There is a lot of respect for each other, both players and coaches,” Covington coach Matt Pond said. “You just throw them out (the records). I was really proud of the way the kids played.”
Miami East coach Allen Mack agreed.
“This was a great atmosphere for a basketball game,” he said. “It went back and forth the whole game. It just came down to we didn’t make a shot at the end.”
And it was Covington senior Chad Yohey who made a number of big plays at the end.
“Really, it came down to him (Chad Yohey) making some big shots, hitting some big free throws,” Mack said.
Covington was trailing 42-41 with 1:45 to go when Yohey buried a 3 — after not having scored up to that point.
“And he didn’t hesitate at all,” Pond said. “What a time to step up.”
Miami East’s Brendon Bertsch answered with a three-point play to put the Vikings back up 45-44 with 1:27 remaining. Bertsch scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
“We weren’t consistent breaking their press,” Mack said. “But, when we did, Brendon (Bertsch) had some big baskets finishing.”
Zach Kuntz then got his only points of the game on an assist from Andrew Cates. And earlier in the quarter, Tyler Fraley had hit a 3.
“It was a team effort,” Pond said.
After Covington got the ball back, Yohey was fouled with 34 seconds to go and hit both free throws to make it 48-45.
Then, Sam Zapadka, who hit 6 of 8 3-point attempts in the game, ripped the nets from just inside the 3-point line to make it 48-47 with 17 seconds to go.
“Sam (Zapadka) shot the ball well tonight,” Mack said. “But, other than that, we weren’t real consistent.”
After a Miami East timeout, the ball was knocked loose on the inbounds and went out of bounds with Covington keeping possession with 12.7 seconds to go.
Covington inbounded the ball to Yohey in the corner, and he was fouled immediately. He stepped to the line and hit the first of two free throws to make it 49-47 and Miami East grabbed the rebound on the second attempt with 10 seconds to go. They got a shot off from the corner that was just off the mark, and the clock ran out during a scramble for the rebound.
“I am really proud of my kids,” Pond said. “The way they were able to switch defenses and switch presses during the game.”
The first quarter was a sign of things to come.
Kleyton Maschino — who along with Cates, carried Covington for much of the game — hit two early 3s and scored eight.
Zapadka was a perfect 4 for 4 from long range, but it was Miami East’s only points as the Buccs led 13-12 after one quarter.
Covington only scored two points in the second quarter as East took a 21-15 halftime lead, but Cates scored nine points in the third quarter and Maschino added seven as Covington took a 33-32 lead to the fourth quarter.
“They outscored us 18-11 in the third quarter,” Mack said. “It was back and forth the whole game.”
Cates hit two free throws to start the fourth quarter to make it 35-32, but Miami East ran off eight straight points to go up 40-35.
After baskets by Bertsch and Keegan Mahaney, Zapadka hit a 3 and Mahaney added one of two free throws to put the Vikings up 40-35 midway through the quarter.
“We took the lead, but then it was back and forth after that the rest of the way,” Mack said.
Maschino and Fraley hit 3s to rally the Buccs and set up the dramatic finish — not easy to do when you are a two-win team and trailing in the fourth quarter on the road.
“That just shows you how this team has stuck together,” Pond said. “It was a great team effort, and I am really happy to see the way Chad (Yohey) stepped up at the end.”
Maschino led Covington with 18 points, while Cates had 14 and Gray Harshbarger grabbed six rebounds.
Zapadka led all scorers with 20 points.
Bertsch had 12 points and Will Hudson grabbed 10 rebounds.
Covington was 17 of 37 from the floor 45 percent and eight of 15 from the line for 53 percent.
Miami East was 17 of 40 from the floor for 43 percent and seven of 11 from the line for 64 percent.
East won the battle of the boards 19-18, but had 12 turnovers to Covington’s nine.
Covington will host New Bremen Tuesday and Miami East will host Bethel Friday.
After a game where there were no titles on the line — and there didn’t need to be.
Chad Yohey 1-3-6, Gray Harshbarger 1-0-2, Andrew Cates 5-3-14, Tyler Fraley 3-0-7, Kleyton Maschino 6-2-18, Spencer Brumbaugh 0-0-0, Zach Kuntz 1-0-2, Kadin Presser 0-0-0. Totals: 17-8-49.
Miami East (47)
Parker Heim 0-0-0, Aaron Lawrence 2-0-4, Sam Zapadka 7-0-20, Will Hudson 1-4-6, Brendon Bertsch 5-2-12, Josh Whitt 0-0-0, Keegan Mahaney 2-1-5. Totals: 17-7-47.
3-point field goals — Covington: Yohey, Cates, Fraley, Maschino (4). Miami East: Zapadka (6).
Score By Quarters
Covington 13 15 33 49
Miami East 12 21 32 47
Records: Covington 3-9 (3-5), Miami East 7-8 (4-3).
Reserve score: Covington 34, Miami East 32.