By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — The Covington boys and girls basketball teams got past Newton Friday in the opening round of the Buccaneer Holiday Classic Friday.
Both Covington teams will play Milton-Union in the championship games Saturday, Newton will play Graham in the consolation games Saturday.
The win set up a rematch with Milton-Union Saturday night in the championship game after a 47-36 loss to the Bulldogs last Saturday.
The Buccs held a 10-6 lead after one and pushed the advantage to 26-15 at the break thanks to a pair of treys by Jake Hamilton and another one by Zach Kuntz.
Kurtz and Hamilton dropped in a couple of buckets each in the third, while Spencer Brumbaugh connected on a trey to help push Covington’s lead to 37-24 with eight minutes to play.
With time becoming a factor, Newton was forced to send Covington to the free throw line in the final frame and the Buccaneers took advantage by dropping in six-of-eight free throws to hold off Newton 52-38.
Covington received a balanced scoring effort as Zach Kuntz led the way with 17 points, while Kaden Presser had 13 points and Jake Hamilton contributed with 11 points.
Kleyson Wehrley was the lone Indian to score in double figures as he matched Kuntz with a game-high 17 points.
After battling a flu bug all week, Covington girls gutted out a 57-45 win over Newton.
And it was Morgan Kimmel who led the charge offensively with a game-high 21 points — 17 of those coming in the second half. She found herself in foul trouble early, but managed to adjust her game to stay on the floor as much as possible.
Covington also received a stellar effort from sophomore post player Claire Fraley, who tallied 18 points and did a great job crashing the boards and making life difficult for Newton inside the paint.
The Lady Buccs led 13-8 after one and pushed the advantage to 26-15 at the break behind 11 points by Fraley – with Kimmel being on the bench for much of the second quarter with two fouls.
But Newton caught fire in the third period as Camryn Gleason scored 11 of her team-high 16 points on a 22-15 Indian advantage in the frame to cut the margin to 41-37 with eight minutes to go.
Fortunately for Covington, the trio of Kimmel, Fraley and Claudia Harrington took over the game in the final frame. Harrington, who had struggled for three quarters to find her offensive groove, dropped in seven of her 11 points in the final frame, while Kimmel and Fraley combined to score the other nine points to hold off Newton 57-45.
Their performances do not show up in the offensive statistics, but seniors Morgan Lowe and Josie Crowell combined with junior Ellie Hedges to give solid all-around efforts in all phases of the game. Lowe, in particular, was a constant harassment to Newton at the defensive end and Hedges made several plays to set up teammates for open buckets.
Crowell, who finished with three points, defended very well out front and did a great job of crashing the boards.
For Newton, Gleason led the way with 16 points, while Kailey Heisey dropped in 10 points in support.