By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON —- The Miami East girls basketball team’s season may have ended in the Covington D-III sectional finals Monday.
But, coach Bruce Vanover couldn’t have been prouder of his team’s 17-8 season, with just two-time CCC player of the Year Morgan Haney and junior Camryn Miller returning to the starting lineup.
The fifth seeded Vikings got in hole early and couldn’t quite catchup in a 58-46 loss to to second seed West Liberty-Salem.
“To be able to get 17 wins with such a young team,” Vanover said. “After the game, Morgan (Haney) talked to the girls about how proud she was that they were able to win 17 games and have such a great season that no one was expecting.”
It was also the final game for Maria Staton and Whitley Gross.
“Whitley (Gross) had played very little varsity and came in this year and had a great season,” Vanover said. “Maria (Staton) had played some minutes for varsity last year and came in and had a really good year, And Morgan (Haney) is just an amazing player.”
The Vikings had beaten WLS 41-32 in the third game of the season —- the last time the Tigers had lost a game.
Kelsey Day returned to the lineup in game four and WLS has run off 21 straight wins.
“She (Kelsey) Day didn’t play against us the first time,” Vanover said. “So, we knew that could be a problem.”
Early on, Haney picked up two fouls in the first 1:30 of the game and got her third early in the second quarter with Miami East trailing 14-8.
But, with sophomore Rory Hunley taking over at point guard, the Vikings stayed within 23-17 at halftime.
“We were down six when Morgan (Haney) went out and down six at halftime,” Vanover said. “I called Rory (Hunley) over and I told her, ‘you are going to be the point guard the next two years. You can do this.’ You don’t ever want your point guard to go out, but she (Rory Hunley) did a great job and Paxton Hunley gave us some great minutes off the bench. She just goes in there and battles.”
But, Day never gave the Vikings a chance to overcome the deficit.
The Tigers scoredseven quick points to start the second half, including a Day three, to go up 30-19.
After East closed within 30-24 on a Haney steal and basket, Day immediately hit another three.
And after a Staton basket had East within 33-28, Day hit another three.
The Vikings were still within 38-32 after three quarters, but another Day three early in the fourth quarter made it 44-32 and Miami East never recovered.
The Tiger senior scored 19 points in the second half on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor, with four threes, and five of six shooting from the line.
“You can’t leaver her open, which we did a couple times,” Vanover said about Day. “But, you have to give her credit. To hit those shots in a high-energy game is not easy. She is a great shooter.”
Haney led Miami East with 19 points, while Miller scored 10 points, Staton had six points and six rebounds and Rory Hunley grabbed six rebounds.
Day led all scorers with 22 points.
Selena Weaver had 12 points before leaving with an injury.
Sophie Cole had eight, Gabby Hollar scored seven and Emily Hollar added six.
Miami East was 17 of 37 from the floor for 46 percent and eight of 15 from the line for 53 percent.
WLS was 18 of 30 from the floor for 60 percent and 15 of 21 from the line for 77 percent.
East won the battle of the boards 20-16 and had 12 turnovers to the Tigers’ 13.
And while it was the Vikings final game of the season, they could take pride in far exceeding expectations.
Miami East (46)
Morgan Haney 9-0-19, Rori Hunley 1-0-3, Camryn Miller 3-2-10, Maria Staton 1-4-6, Whitley Gross 0-1-1, Cadence Gross 2-0-4, Paxton Hunley 1-1-3, Emily Adkins 0-0-0. Totals: 17-8-46.
West Liberty-Salem (58)
Kelsey Day 6-5-22, Gabby Hollar 2-2-7, Paige Shafer 1-0-3, Grace Estes 0-0-0, Selean Weaver 6-0-12, Emily Hollard 2-2-6, Sophie Cole 1-6-8. Totals: 18-15-58.
3-point field goals —- Miami East: Haney, Rori Hunley, Miller (2). West Liberty-Salem: Day (5), Gabby Hollard, Shafer.
Score By Quarters
Miami East 8 17 32 46
West Liberty-Salem 14 23 38 58
Records: Miami East 17-8, West Liberty-Salem 21-3.