By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON — It was a typical opening half of the girls basketball season Friday night, with both Houston and Covington trying to find the shooting range in the opening half.
But, Covington was able to stretch a 22-9 halftime lead to 44-14 after three quarters and posted a 52-27 victory.
Covington was 10 of 16 from the floor in the third quarter, after hitting just 10 of 35 shots in the opening half.
And a big part of that was Sammi Whiteman.
After two baskets by Morgan Kimmel, Whiteman hit six of eight shots in the quarter, including two 3-pointers as she scored 14 points in the quarter and finished with 27, despite not playing in the fourth quarter.
“I finally started hitting some shots,” Whiteman said with a smile about an untypical shooting performance in the first half. “I think I was just so pumped up (at the start of the game).”
And Whiteman understood it was a big game for the entire Buccs team, who has just three players with a lot of varsity experience.
“We have had some scrimmages,” Whiteman said. “But, we have some freshman and some seniors. It was great the way everybody came together out there tonight.”
Houston coach Brad Allen knew slowing down Whiteman was going to be a tough assignment.
“We tried some different looks to keep her from penetrating,” Allen said. “I felt like that was the best way to approach her. But, it is just tough to guard her.”
Houston finished just two of 20 from the floor in the first half and never really got untracked.
“We just couldn’t buy a basket,” Allen said. “And we had some good looks. Nothing would fall.”
And Covington converted on enough opportunities in the first half to open a double-digit lead.
“It was great to have a 13-point halftime lead,” Covington coach Jim Meyer said. “But, we sure left a number of points out there on the floor.”
But, the Buccs owned a big rebounding advantage all game.
Freshman Makenzee Maschino led the Buccs with 15 rebounds, while Whiteman had 10 and Kimmel had nine.
“What won us the game was defense and rebounding,” Meyer said. “Especially knowing how aggressive would be coming in here and how good Houston is. Considering we were playing two freshman, I was pretty pleased with how we played.”
Kimmel also added seven points on offense despite going up against much taller opponents.
“Morgan (Kimmel) is just a beast in there,” Meyer said. “As long as she can stay on the floor, she is going to be a strong player.”
Addie White led Houston with eight points.
Covington was 23 of 63 from the floor for 37 percent and three of eight from the line for 38 percent, while Houston was seven of 48 from the floor for 15 percent and 11 of 15 from the line for 73 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 47-16 and had 10 turnovers to Houston’s five.
Covington will play at Fairlawn tonight, while Houston will host New Bremen Thursday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.