By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — Victory was within the grasp of the Covington Buccaneers on Friday against Arcanum, one of the top teams in the CCC.
The Buccs led by six after three quarters by implementing a stellar defensive effort that seemed to frustrate the Trojans,
But Arcanum erupted for 20 points in the fourth quarter and the Buccaneers couldn’t keep pace in what turned into a heartbreaking 49-44 defeat.
The first half was as evenly played as anyone could expect as Covington held a 10-9 lead after one and the score was knotted at 18-18 at the half.
But early in the second half it appeared as though the Buccaneers had the “mojo” to take down the Trojans as Covington started the second half on fire with back-to-back treys by Zach Kuntz and Spencer Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh then picked up a steal and Kuntz followed a missed shot for a stick back for an 8-0 run.
Arcanum followed with three free throws and a layup off of a steal to cut the Buccaneer lead to 26-23.
The momentum was halted for Arcanum on a technical foul and Kuntz took advantage with a free throw and a trey by Kleyton Maschino for a seven-point lead, 30-23.
After a pair of free throws by Arcanum, Kadin Presser connected on a short jumper, but the Buccaneer leading scorer picked up his fourth foul with 2:08 left in the third.
With Presser on the bench, Arcanum picked up the defensive pressure, but Kuntz was able to knock down a huge bucket for his 17th point and final point to push the lead to 35-27.
Arcanum closed out the frame with a bucket to cut the Covington lead to 35-29 with 8:00 to go.
Brumbaugh, who Arcanum had frustrated for much of the game, was able to beat the defensive pressure for a layup to start the final frame.
But things started to unravel for Covington as Arcanum went to a full court press, which forced the Buccs into turnovers and a 43-43 score with 2:15 left.
From there, Covington couldn’t make the plays it needed as Arcanum outscored Covington 6-1 the rest of the way to hand the Buccs a 49-44 defeat.
But even with the loss the one thing Covington can hang its hat on is first-year coach Karl Ratermann has this team playing with relentless effort.
Covington was led in scoring by senior Zach Kuntz, who was the only Buccaneer to score in double figures.
Arcanum was led by Carter Gray, who tallied a game-high 24 points. Cameron Burke contributed 13 valuable points to the Trojan cause.
The loss drops Covington to 3-2 on the season and 3-1 in the CCC. The Buccs look to rebound tomorrow at Milton-Union, which is a stiff non-conference opponent.