By Rob Kiser
CASSTOWN — For the second time in three years, the Miami East girls basketball team came away with the top prize in the Barnball Classic, outlasting Covington 60-46 in the Pool B championship game Sunday.
“Two years ago, we started this when I was at Graham and Miami East run,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “Last year we lost in the championship game. The girls are excited about winning it.”
East came out firing on all cylinders, while Covington couldn’t buy a basket in the early going.
As a result, the Lady Vikings jumped out to a 20-4 lead in the first minute of the second quarter.
Megan Kinnison and Haley Howard both had six points in the opening quarter for East, while Megan Thompson added four.
“We talk about the fact we have a lot of girls who can score,” Vanover said. “We brought Megan Kinnison off the bench today and she came in and hit a couple shots right away to spark us.”
The Lady Vikings were still in front 37-21 at the halftime break.
“I really don’t know what happened to us offensively in the first half,” Covington coach Craig Maschino said. “It was the same thing yesterday. We were down 10-9 to Troy at halftime. We knew Miami East liked to dribble-penetrate. Today, they came out and hit shots from outside.”
But, the Lady Buccs weren’t done.
“We talked about that at halftime,” Maschino said. “There is no quit on this team.”
East was still leading 44-34 after a three by Bailey Miller late in the third quarter when Covington went on a tear.
A three by Rayna Horner, a jumper by Jessie Crowell and Sammi Whiteman driving the lane for two cut the East lead to 44-41.
Covington was within three early in the fourth quarter at 46-43 after another basket by Jessie Crowell.
“We made that run in the third quarter,” Maschino said. “We got within three. But, we used up a lot of energy making that comeback. Once we got there, we just didn’t have anything left.”
East outscored Covington 14-3 the rest of the way to finish off the win.
“An old coach told me one time it is a game of runs,” Vanover said. “We talked about that at halftime. That they weren’t going anywhere. That they were going to come out after us. We turned things around in the fourth quarter.”
East’s scoring was as balanced as you could get.
Megan Kinnison led the Vikings with 10 points.
Miller, Thompson and Kyndall Hellyer all had nine, Haley Howard scored eight and Morgan Haney added seven.
“I have to give a lot of credit to coach (Kevin) Gump,” Vanover said. “He has turned them loose a little more this year. We are able to do some things we couldn’t do last year and that is a credit to him.”
Brooke Gostomsky, who was named tournament MVP, led Covington with 13 points and Jessie Crowell added 12.
“I have tried to get the girls to work at the game outside the gym,” Maschino said. “Brooke (Gostomsky) is a hard worker. She has put a lot of work in and it is paying dividends. I am proud of her.”
Also named to the all-tournament team were Covington’s Sammi Whiteman, Miami East’s Morgan Haney and Haley Howard, Troy’s Maddy Taylor and Urbana’s Hunter Rogan.
“It is not going to get any easier for us,” Vanover said. “We have Anna Saturday, Tipp (Tippecanoe) the following Saturday and Tri-Village the Saturday after that.”
But, right now, the Lady Vikings will enjoy taking the top prize at the Barnball Classic.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.