FEBRUARY 27, 2019 - BROOKVILLE
All good things must come to an end, but the Covington Lady Buccs didn't expect a magical season to end so abruptly in the sectional final via a shocking 42-34 loss to a Franklin Monroe team it defeated 59-47 earlier in the year.
But what makes the defeat so much more painful is the fact that four Lady Bucc seniors played their final game in Covington uniforms - Lauren Christian, Lillian Hamilton, Leah Poling and of course, Sammi Whiteman.
What's even more distressful is the fact that Whiteman is a once-in-a-generation player many will never see play in person again - unless they choose to follow her upcoming collegiate career at Trevecca Nazarene University. She left a legacy of excellence at Covington and set a standard future players will hopefully use as motivation for their own success.
Whiteman finishes her career with 1,893 career points, good for the top spot in the history of Covington basketball and second all-time in the history of Miami County. She also ranks second in school history with 588 points scored in a season behind 603 points by Lynnette Roeth in 1991-92 and has the school record for most points in a game with 41 last year against Bethel. To top it off, Whiteman has played in more games than other Covington basketball player in history - 100.
"She has been the face of Covington girls basketball for the last three years," Covington coach Meyer said of his senior standout. "You mentioned Covington girls basketball and they would say, 'Samantha Whiteman'. You couldn't ask anything more from a player. She worked so hard and she deserved everything she got."
But unfortunately tonight it all came to an end.
And it was a horrid shooting night - easily the worst shooting night of the season - that led to Covington’s doom.
The Lady Buccs converted on just 21 percent from the floor (14 of 68) throughout the entire contest, many of those misses coming within four feet of the rim.
"The early shot chart had us missing 19 shots from point-blank range in the first half," Meyer said.
And it was obvious from the get-go what Franklin Monroe's defensive strategy was - to shut down Sammi Whiteman and make the rest of the Covington lineup try to beat them. The strategy worked because Whiteman was relegated to distributing the ball to teammates and shot after shot bounced off the rim one after another on a consistent basis.
"I can't recall a game like this," Meyer said about Covington’s offensive frustrations. "Other than the Fort Loramie game at regionals last year, where we left a bunch of points on the court and only lost by five points."
Meanwhile, the Covington defense had success as well in containing Franklin Monroe's Belle Cable and Corina Conley - holding the duo to a combined 13 points.
But Chloe McGlinch torched the Lady Buccs with three long range three-pointers and a game-high 19 points.
"We were hoping she would hit a couple shots early and then cool off," Meyer said of McGlinch. "But, that didn't happen."
As poor as Covington shot the ball, it was still within striking distance after Lauren Christian hit a trey to cut the deficit to 38-34 with 1:21 left in the game.
But that would be the final points for Covington as it turned the ball over after getting a defensive stop and then missed on a desperation three.
"If you had told me we would hold Franklin Monroe to 42 points, I would think we would win," Meyer said. "But, give FM credit. They did a great job defensively."
Whiteman, led Covington with 11 points on very few shot opportunities.
Along with its 21 percent field goal shooting, Covington was just three of eight from the line for 38 percent.
FM was 14 of 41 from the floor for 34 percent and 10 of 22 from the line for 45 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 33-28 and had six turnovers to the Jets 11.
It all spelled the end of a 20-4 season - a season Meyer didn't want to see end.
"I am really proud of this team," Meyer said about a squad that tied the regular season record for wins. "People thought we were going to be just okay and we were a lot better than that. This group of seniors is probably the closest I have been to a group (of seniors). They were sophomores when I took over."
Which seems like yesterday as time goes by way too fast.
Yes, tonight was the END OF AN ERA.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
Covington: 8 - 6 - 11 - 9 = 34
Franklin Monroe: 13 - 9 - 8 - 12 = 42
Sammi Whiteman - 11
Morgan Kimmel - 6
Lauren Christian - 6
Claudia Harrington - 5
Morgan Lowe - 4
Lilly Hamilton - 2
Chloe McGlinch - 19
Corina Conley - 11
Stella Shellabarger - 5
Bauman - 3
Belle Cable - 2
Chloe Peters - 2
Covington: Whiteman (1), Harrington (1), Christian (1)
Franklin Monroe: McGlinch (3), Bauman (1)