FEBRUARY 27, 2020 - PIQUA
Looking back through the season, Covington’s first-year coach Karl Ratermann and his staff had his team in position to win 20 of the 24 games during the regular season and sectional tournament.
Outside of double-digit losses to Versailles, Milton-Union, National Trail and Miami East, Covington had a chance to win each and every other contest in the final minutes.
Unfortunately, coming into Thursday’s sectional contest against Troy Christian, the Buccaneers had suffered eight losses by five points or less - three of those coming on buzzer-beaters.
And Thursday’s matchup against Troy Christian was the final source of heartbreak as the Eagles knocked down a runner by Brady Clawson with 1.1 seconds left to hand the Buccaneers a season-ending 51-49 loss.
Yes, every point matters - or - more prominently, every missed opportunity matters.
And Covington missed on some golden opportunities to put critical points on the board - especially late in the first half.
After leading 15-10 after one, the Buccaneers missed four buckets from point-blank range inside the paint - one on a last second layup before the half. Covington also missed two of three free throws after being fouled on a three-point shot attempt.
So, instead of possibly being up 29-20 at the break, Covington trailed 20-19 as the Buccs only connected on one free throw and one field goal in the frame - a three-pointer by Jake Hamilton.
The game remained tight throughout the third period as Troy Christian held a 40-36 lead heading into the fourth.
Covington stayed within striking distance, but suffered a huge blow when senior Kleyton Maschino fouled out with Troy Christian leading 49-43 with 2:40 to go.
But the Buccaneers, who have shown a competitive heart the entire season, were not done.
Hamilton hit a three and Zach Kuntz made one of two free throws to make it 49-47 with 48 seconds to go.
After a five-second call following a Troy Christian timeout at the 37.9 second mark, Hamilton drilled a jumper from just in front of the 3-point line with 20 seconds to go to tie it at 49-49 to force a Troy Christian timeout with 6.8 seconds left on the clock.
“There was no question in my mind our kids were going to battle back,” Covington coach Karl Ratermann said. “These kids have lost eight games by five points or less. They are so resilient. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
From there, Troy Christian moved the ball to the top of the key in the hands of Clawson. The senior point guard, who had been in foul trouble for much of the second half, drove to the right and elevated a runner that bounced off the backboard and around the rim through the bottom of the net as Covington called a timeout with 1.1 seconds left on the clock.
After returning to the floor and setting up for what would be a miracle attempt at victory, Troy Christian called a timeout to adjust its defense.
Covington then inbounded the ball to senior point guard Spencer Brumbaugh near mid-court and Brumbaugh quickly turned and put up a shot that appeared to be well on its way to the rim.
Unfortunately the ball bounced off the backboard and to the floor as the buzzer sounded - ending Covington’s season with a 10-14 record.
“You have to give them credit,” Ratermann said. “They just made a play at the end of the game.”
Jake Hamilton and Kleyton Mashino both had 13 points for Covington.
Kuntz had nine points and six rebounds and Kadin Presser also scored nine points.
Troy Christian was 19 of 37 from the floor for 51 percent and 11 of 17 from the line for 65 percent.
Covington was 19 of 45 from the floor for 42 percent and four of eight from the line for 50 percent.
The Eagles won the battle of the boards 21-17 and had 16 turnovers to Covington’s 17.
Troy Christian (51)
Connor Peters 1-3-5, Isaac Gray 3-4-11, Chas Schemmel 0-0-0, Tyler Jackson 1-2-5, Brady Clawson 7-0-14, Ben Major 4-1-9, Lucas Day 3-1-7, Aaron Gillespie 0-0-0, Nathan Waltz 0-0-0. Totals: 19-11-51.
Spencer Brumbaugh 1-0-2, Kadin Presser 4-1-9, Wes Gooding 1-0-3, Zach Kuntz 4-1-9, Kleyton Maschino 4-2-13, Jake Hamilton 5-0-13, Jaden Barhorst 0-0-0. Totals: 19-4-49.
3-point field goals -- Troy Christian: Gray, Jackson. Covington: Gooding, Maschino (3), Hamilton (3).
Score By Quarters
Troy Christian 10 20 40 51
Covington 15 19 36 49
Records: Troy Christian 19-5, Covington 10-14.