By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
COVINGTON — The Troy girls basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better Senior Night Saturday against Piqua.
Monday, it was Covington’s turn.
Buccaneer senior Sammi Whiteman, who is closing in on a school and a Miami County scoring milestone, poured in 20 of her 30 points in the first half and dished out nine assists Monday night, getting everyone involved from the start and leading Covington to a 69-28 victory over the visiting Trojans on the Buccs’ Senior Night Monday at Covington High School.
With the win, the Buccs finished the regular season 18-3 overall. And for the four Covington seniors — Whiteman, Lauren Christian, Lilli Hamilton and Leah Poling — it was the perfect night.
“It couldn’t have gone any better. We all played so well,” Whiteman said. “To get to play with all the seniors, it was a fun experience, and it was just a great win.”
“Obviously, you want to win on Senior Night and be far enough ahead at the end of the game to bring the kids off the floor so they can get their applause from the crowd. I’m just so proud of our kids,” Covington coach Jim Meyer said. “We prepared really well for Troy, and the kids followed the gameplan to perfection.”
Troy, meanwhile, was coming off of its own emotional Senior Night win over rival Piqua in its last game and simply couldn’t find the same level of intensity on Monday, finishing the regular season 14-8.
“I don’t know if you want to call it a Senior Night ‘curse.’ For us, tonight, it was,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “For us, it was Senior Night magic on Saturday. Tonight, we didn’t play very well. I don’t know that we were very interested in this game, and coach Meyer and Covington were. They were fired up, and we were in slow motion. They beat us to every loose ball and outhustled us.
“Credit to them and their coaching staff — they’ve seen us play a couple times, and little things that we’ve been able to get away with in the past, we didn’t get away with tonight. Our execution and energy level were poor, and they played a heck of a game.”
And from the start, Covington showed how well prepared it was.
Freshman Claudia Harrington hit three first-quarter 3-pointers and Whiteman drilled a pair, staking the Buccs out to a big 20-8 lead after the opening eight minutes. And in the second quarter, the Covington defense forced 10 turnovers, capping off a 14-0 run with a series of steals and transition layups to take a commanding 38-15 lead at halftime.
“I told the guards before the game that I was watching film, and if we run-and-gun, I thought we’d play so much better,” Whiteman said. “Everyone contributed and stayed so positive, and I think that was huge.”
That all continued in the second half, too, as Troy never mounted any kind of response. The Covington defense held the Trojans to only one early free throw and one late field goal by Tia Bass in the third while continuing to efficiently put up points on the offensive end, taking a 50-18 lead after three and coasting from there.
Whiteman had 30 points to lead the way and is closing on Covington’s all-time leading scorer, Lynette Roeth, who scored 1,879 points in her career. Roeth is also the second-leading scorer in Miami County history behind Bethel’s Kelly Lyons. Whiteman also added nine assists, seven steals and six rebounds on the night as Covington forced 26 turnovers while committing only six.
Harrington added 11 points and five rebounds, Makenzee Maschino had nine points and seven rebounds, Morgan Kimmel scored eight points, Christian had five points, Hamilton had three points and nine rebounds and Josie Crowell had three points.
“Obviously on Senior Night, the kids are excited. But man, we just came out and executed on both ends,” Meyer said. “I’m just so proud of our kids. They play so well together, and we have no selfish kids. They root for each other, and it’s just been a blast and an honor to coach them.”
Bass had seven points and nine rebounds and Macie Taylor had seven points to lead Troy, MaKenna Taylor hit a pair of 3s and scored six points, Lauren McGraw had four points and three rebounds, Laura Borchers had two points and four rebounds and Erika Innes had two points.
The Trojans will look to right the ship when they begin Division I sectional tournament play against Northmont Saturday at Butler.
“We just need to refocus,” Johnson said. “We were still on a little bit of a high from that Piqua win, and we came right into here so there wasn’t a lot of preparation time. It’s just a matter of gameplanning and getting back on track. Now, there’s something different to play for. Now, if you lose, you go home.”
The Buccs also open their run in the Division IV sectional tournament Saturday, taking on Tri-County North at Brookville High School — and Meyer thinks that a scare in their final league game against National Trail last week has helped to get the Buccs focused as they look to get back to the regional tournament.
“Last Thursday, that double-overtime win over National Trail, I think it kind of woke us up,” Meyer said. “You can’t take anyone for granted, and you have to be ready physically and mentally.”
“The goal is to go as far as we can, but we have to take it one game at a time. We can’t overlook anybody,” Whiteman said. “The goal really is to beat the team in front of us.”
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.