By Rob Kiser
and Josh Brown
CASSTOWN — The Miami East girls took another step toward an outright Cross County Conference title.
But the visiting Covington girls didn’t make it easy.
The Buccaneers took a 30-26 to the fourth quarter, but Miami East wasn’t going to be denied, opening the fourth quarter with a 13-2 onslaught and riding that momentum to a 52-40 win Thursday night at home.
Miami East is now 14-3 overall and 9-0 in the CCC with conference games remaining with Mississinawa Valley and National Trail.
“After we beat Tri-Village (the Patriots’ only loss in conference play), we talked about the ‘Drive for Five,’” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said about the final five conference games. “We weren’t looking past anyone. And we knew this game with Covington was just as big as the one with Tri-Village.
“That is a good team. They only had two losses in the conference coming in.”
While Covington drops to 12-6 overall and 5-3 in the CCC, the Buccs had exactly what they wanted for three quarters.
“We did,” Covington coach Jim Meyer said. “But, at the same time, we knew how Miami East could shoot 3s.”
The Vikings scored half of their 52 points in the fourth quarter, led by Camryn Miller’s 11 points.
Bailey Miller started the fourth quarter with a 3, Haley Howard had a three-point play and Camryn Miller hit a 3 during the early run.
“We were just really struggling to score,” Vanover said. “Bailey (Miller) and Haley (Howard) are seniors, and Camryn (Miller) — that is why we run the motion offense, because of what she can do from up top. And Morgan Haney got going there in the fourth quarter.”
Meyer pointed out two pivotal plays.
One was a rebound bouncing out of a Covington player’s hands and East’s Maria Staton grabbing it and kicking it out to Camryn Miller for a 3, and the other was backside rebound by Camryn Miller for two points.
“I thought those were two pivotal plays,” Meyer said. “That was five quick points.”
Camryn Miller added another 3 to make it 42-34 with four minutes to play, and Covington could never get closer than seven the rest of the way.
“You have to give the girls credit for the way they stepped up in the fourth quarter,” Vanover said. “I thought we were getting just as good a shots as Covington. We just weren’t hitting (until the fourth quarter).”
Meyer had nothing praise for his team.
“I can’t say enough about the job Kenzie (Long) did on Morgan Haney,” Meyer said. “I know she ended up with 14, but she was under 10 for most of the game. These kids just play so hard.”
The game had started with Miami East scoring six quick points.
The Vikings still led 8-2, before Covington took a 13-11 first quarter lead and 24-21 lead at half.
Sammi Whiteman had 13 points for Covington in the first half.
“After we got that lead, Sammi (Whiteman) kind of got rolling,” Vanover said. “We just didn’t play very good defense. The idea was to keep Sammi in front of us. Once she gets in the middle, anything can happen. She can kick it out, dish it inside or score herself.”
Howard kept East in the game with 12 first-half points, including two 3s.
“Haley (Howard) and those 3s,” Vanover said with a laugh. “If you don’t come out on her, she will shoot them.”
And while Covington was still up 30-26 after three quarters, the Buccs failed to score for almost five minutes to start the second half.
“We had several possessions there with a chance to extend the lead, and we weren’t able to do it,” Meyer said.
Vanover credited his defense.
“I thought our defense was much better the second half,” he said. “We didn’t have any help-side defense the first half.”
And eventually, Miami East made Covington pay for those missed opportunities with a 26-10 advantage in the final quarter.
Howard had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Haney had 14 points and five rebounds. Camryn Miller scored 14 points and Bailey Miller added seven.
Whiteman had a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds, while Tori Lyle had eight points and seven rebounds.
Miami East was 19 of 43 from the floor for 44 percent and eight of 10 from the line for 80 percent.
Covington was 19 of 48 from the floor for 40 percent and one of three from the line for 33 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 25-20, but had 10 turnovers to East’s eight.
Covington hosts Jackson Center Saturday, while Miami East goes to Fort Loramie.
Before the Vikings look to complete the final two steps of the “Drive for Five” and a CCC title.
NEW LEBANON —Kristen Dickison scored a career high Thursday night, helping the Milton-Union Bulldogs (7-9, 5-4 Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division) snap a two-game losing streak by leading them to a 61-36 victory over Dixie on the road.
Dickison scored a game-high 29 points and added four rebounds, four assists and six steals as the Bulldogs built a big lead early and consistently added to it. Her previous high was 28 points, coming against Greenville last season.
Olivia Brown added nine points, six rebounds and three assists, Morgan Nemeth had eight points and four assists and Annika Hutchinson had seven points and three rebounds.
Milton-Union faces Waynesville Saturday.
ARCANUM — Newton held an early lead Thursday night at Arcanum, but the Trojans were able to rally and defeated the Indians 43-35 in Cross County Conference play.
Tatum McBride was held to 15 points for the Indians (10-6, 6-5 CCC) and Anna Wolfe added 10 points.
Newton travels to Tri-County North Saturday.
Miss. Valley 19
BRADFORD — Bradford freshman Skipp Miller scored 21 points Thursday night as the Railroaders (7-10, 4-6 Cross County Conference) scored the game’s first 17 points and routed Mississinawa Valley 54-19.
Emma Canan scored nine points during that game-opening 17-point run, finishing with with 15 on the night.
Bradford travels to Brookville Tuesday.
Other scores: Wednesday — Bethel (6-7) 56, Triad 51. Thursday — Bethel (7-7, 3-5 CCC) 47, National Trail 46. Troy Christian (14-2, 8-1 MBC) 46, Dayton Christian 20. Lehman (8-7) 49, Ridgemont 48.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334. Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.