By Rob Kiser
VANDALIA — If you want to look at all the opportunities Covington missed, you can certainly do that.
But that would be unfair to the Covington girls basketball team after a 32-27 loss to Fort Loramie in a Division IV regional semifinal Thursday at the Butler’s Student Activities Center.
And nobody knows that better than Covington coach Jim Meyer, whose team was in a 27-27 tie with the Redskins with less than two minutes remaining before Loramie made five free throws down the stretch to win the game.
Loramie (22-5) advances to play 23-3 Minster in the regional final Saturday night, while Covington closes the season 20-7.
“These girls played their rear ends off,” Meyer said. “It has been a phenomenal season. Another 20-win season. I am just so proud of these kids and what they accomplished this year.”
And it was another phenomenal performance by Sammi Whiteman.
The junior guard made 6 of 11 shots from the floor, including her only 3-point attempt, and scored 18 of Covington’s 27 points despite being harassed by the Loramie defense all game.
“What people don’t know is Sammi (Whiteman) had the stomach flu yesterday,” Meyer said. “It was touch-and-go if she was even going to play. I am not making excuses, because Sammi still played her usual great game. But that just tells you about her. And all the other girls stepped up, as well.”
In the end, Covington couldn’t get a big basket when they needed it — and Fort Loramie was able to convert from the line.
Loramie took the lead on two free throws by Abby Holthaus with 1:43 left to go up 29-27. The Redskins then got the ball back and missed the front end of a one-and-one with 31.8 seconds to go Covington got the rebound but turned the ball over.
Loramie again missed the front end of the one-and one, but Covington did the same with 22.4 seconds to go.
Then, although it appeared to be another Covington player who committed a foul — Whiteman, playing with four fouls, was called for her fifth.
Holthaus made the second of two free throws to make it 30-27 with 16.7 seconds to go.
Covington came down and was unable to get off a shot and Kenzie Hoelscher made two free throws with .9 seconds left for the final margin.
“With Sammi (Whiteman) on the bench, we just couldn’t get organized (for a 3),” Meyer said. “We knew we couldn’t send Loramie to the line, but they did miss some. We missed a lot of shots and free throws. You can always look back at those things in a close game.”
Jordan Crowell had a 4-point play in the opening quarter and the game was tied at 10 after one.
Loramie opened an 18-11 lead in the second quarter behind the shooting of Taylor Ratermann, but Covington scored seven straight points to tie it, including six by Whiteman —including four straight to start the second half — to tie it early in the third quarter.
Again Covington rallied from a 27-20 deficit.
Whiteman hit a 3 to finish the third-quarter scoring — then hit two free throws at the 5:06 mark of the fourth quarter and Tori Lyle had a putback with 3:40 remaining.
Loramie hadn’t scored in the fourth quarter — and it stayed that way until the Redskins made the five free throws at the end as Covington wouldn’t score again.
“I thought we had a great defensive effort,” Meyer said. “We were right there. We just had too many mistakes. That is one of the things we talked about. Loramie is going to do enough. We couldn’t do anything to help them.”
Whiteman also had five rebounds for Covington. Crowell finished with four points, Tori Lyle and Lillian Hamilton each scored two and Morgan Kimmel added one.
Ratermann led Loramie with 11 points and five rebounds, Marissa Meiring scored eight points, Kenzie Hoelscher scored seven points, Holthaus had two points and 10 rebounds and Dana Rose and Alyssa Wrasman each scored two.
Covington was nine of 28 from the floor for 32 percent and 7 of 12 from the line for 58 percent.
Fort Loramie was 12 of 36 from the floor for 33 percent and 5 of 8 from the line for 63 percent.
Loramie won the battle of the boards 29-23 and had 15 turnovers to Covington’s 16.
“There were a lot of players and coaches up in the stands watching that would have given anything to be down there playing,” Meyer said. “There is really no good way to end a season. Unless it ends over at Columbus (at the state tournament) with a win.”
Which is why Meyer hated to say goodbye to seniors Crowell and Lyle — but couldn’t have been prouder with the whole team when he did.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU