By Rob Kiser
BROOKVILLE — This time of year in high school basketball in Ohio it is about surviving and advancing.
And while the Covington girls basketball team’s chances of doing that were never in serious jeopardy Wednesday night in the second round of the Division IV sectional at Brookville it was not a typical performance for the Buccaneers in a 59-35 victory.
Covington (19-5) will play fourth-seeded Southeastern (17-7) at noon Saturday for the sectional title.
“You can chalk it up to being flat off a big win (over Miami Valley),” Covington girls basketball coach Jim Meyer said. “You can chalk it up to looking past (Twin Valley South). It really doesn’t matter. At this point in the season, it is about winning and moving on.”
And Meyer knew this was a trap game for Covington.
After the second-seeded Buccs beat No. 3 Miami Valley on Saturday, South came in with a 4-18 record and 0-12 mark in the CCC … and that spelled trouble.
“We beat them in the fourth game of the season,” Meyer said. “No matter how much you try and tell them it is not the same team and that you have to be ready to play, you know the girls might look at it as this is going to be easy.”
Outside of two runs at the start of the second and third quarters, when Covington outscored South 23-0, it was anything but.
With Covington leading just 14-10 after one quarter, 6-foot sophomore Lillian Hamilton entered the game after missing Saturday because of health issues.
“That was a surprise,” Meyer said. “She came up to me Monday at school and said, ‘I think I can go.’ I told her if she can go, she is going to play. She had a really good practice Tuesday night.”
After Sammi Whiteman started an 11-0 run with a steal and a layup, Hamilton scored off a Whiteman assist.
After a 3 by Addison Metz, Hamilton blocked two shots on a South possession, which resulted in a layup for Lexie Long at the other end.
Whiteman then scored again to make it 25-10.
“She (Lillian Hamilton) just gives us a different dimension,” Meyer said. “She can block shots, she gets to rebounds we don’t get other wise. Having her is big.”
But Covington scored just two points the rest of the half and led 27-19 at halftime.
“When we got to the locker room at halftime, I asked the girls where my team was,” Meyer said. “The team that executes on offense, the team that rebounds, the team that plays tough defense.”
Covington responded with a 12-0 run to start the second half to make it 39-19 and put the game away.
Metz had two more 3s in the run.
“I was really happy with the way the starters responded in the third quarter,” Meyer said. “They did all those things we weren’t doing in the first half.”
Whiteman led Covington with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Metz scored nine points, Lexie Long added eight, Makenzie Long grabbed seven rebounds and Hamilton scored seven points and pulled down five rebounds. Tori Lyle had six points and Justice Warner added five.
Mylan Crews led Twin Valley South with 10 points.
Kelsie Shafer had seven rebounds and Emily Hutchings pulled down six.
Covington was 24 of 60 from the floor for 40 percent and five of seven from the line for 71 percent.
Twin Valley South was 13 of 50 from the floor for 26 percent and seven of 11 from the line for 64 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 38-24, but had 16 turnovers, while South had 20.
“I told the girls we won’t play another game like that this year,” Meyer said. “Because, if we do, we will be going home.”
And for the Buccs, it is all about surviving and advancing.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.