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Facing their stiffest league test to date, the Covington Lady Buccs put together an impressive performance in a convincing win over Franklin Monroe.
Sammi Whiteman led Covington to a big win over Franklin Monroe by scoring 32 points.

By Rob Kiser, Piqua Daily Call 
There were some nervous moments for Covington coach Jim Meyer at the end of Tuesday's practice when Lady Buccs star guard Sammi Whiteman suffered an injury to her non-shooting hand.

One thing he wasn't concerned about was keeping her out of Thursday's CCC showdown with Franklin Monroe.

"She jammed her knuckle Tuesday night," Meyer said. "Fortunately, it was her non-shooting hand. I was joking with her about shooting video tonight instead of playing. But, Sammi (Whiteman) isn't going to miss a game."

In fact, it probably would be a challenge for the National Guard to keep her off the floor. Which is a good thing, because she scored 30 points in the first three quarters and finished with 32 in a 59-47 victory.

"I think it happened on the last play of practice," Whiteman said. "There is no way I was going to miss the FM game."

Not only did FM come in looking to even the score after Covington knocked them out of the tournament a year ago, FM came in 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the CCC, while Covington was 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the CCC.

"I don't think it was always like that (a rivalry)," Whiteman said. "But, after last year when they beat us during the season and then we beat them in the tournament, I think it has become that way."

And Meyer and Whiteman would both be the first to tell you it was about a lot more than Whiteman's offense Thursday night.

FM 5-4 guard Belle Cable and 6-foot post Corina Conley came in averaging more than 30 points between them.

With Covington playing a triangle-and-two, the two made just four of 12 shots and combined for just 13 points.

"Our defensive execution was perfect - except maybe for sending them to the line too much in the fourth quarter," Meyer said. "It was the same thing we did against Bradford. The two Morgans (Lowe and Kimmel) and Makenzie (Maschino) are so strong in that defense. And Morgan (Lowe) may not be that big, but she stepped in there and took two charges in the first half. Those two (Belle Cable, Corina Conley) were 31 points of their offense for the season. You feel like if you shut one of them down, you have a good chance. If you shut both of them down, you feel like you are going to be in pretty good shape."

And while FM was struggling offensively, Whiteman and the Buccs began to find their rhythm.

Covington led 14-7 after one quarter and when Whiteman followed a 3-point play with a three from the corner at the 3:10 mark of the first half, she had 19 points and Covington led 29-15.

"When we get into a rhythm like that, it is a lot of fun and we are hard to stop," Whiteman said.

And Meyer marvelled at what Whiteman was able to do.

"It is just a credit to her (Sammi Whiteman)," he said. "The way she steps up and plays in the pressure situations."

And both will tell you the emergence of freshman Claudia Harrington in the Buccs offense has been huge.

She hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points.

"You know, Jordan (Crowell) was kind of Robin to Sammi's Batman last year," Meyer said. "We were wondering who was going to fill that roll and Claudia has really stepped up."

Which takes some pressure of Whiteman.

"Claudia (Harrington) has been playing great," Whiteman said. "I have a lot of confidence in her."

After banking in a three in the second quarter, she hit two big shots early in the third quarter.

And she topped that in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

With time running out, Whiteman fired the ball to Harrington in the corner and she drilled the shot to give Covington a 51-30 lead going to the fourth quarter.

"That was backbreaker right there," Meyer said.

Lilly Hamilton caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring six points and finishing with eight points and seven rebounds, while Harrington also grabbed seven rebounds and Whiteman pulled down five.

Kennedy Morris had 19 points for FM, while Conley had nine points and eight rebounds and Chloe McGlinch scored eight points.

Covington was 25 of 54 from the floor for 46 percent and five of nine from the line for 56 percent, while FM was 14 of 42 from the floor for 33 percent and 12 of 15 from the line for 80 percent.

Covington won the battle of the boards 29-21 and had 15 turnovers to FM's 21.

The Buccs, in a three-way tie for the CCC lead with Tri-Village and Miami East.

Covington is now off until Dec. 28 when the Lady Buccs play Graham at 6 p.m. in the opening round of the Buccaneer Classic.

"Coach (Jim Meyer) is always telling us the best team on the schedule is the team we play next," Whiteman said.

And you can be just as sure, nothing will stop Sammi from being on the floor.

Franklin Monroe (47)
Belle Cable 2-0-4, Corina Conley 2-5-9, Kennedy Morris 7-1-19, Stella Shellabarger 1-2-5, Chloe Peters 0-2-2, Chloe McGlinch 2-2-8. Totals: 14-12-47.

Covington (59)
Morgan Lowe 0-0-0, Sammi Whiteman 13-5-32, Morgan Kimmel 0-0-0, Claudia Harrington 6-0-15, Lauren Christian 0-0-0, Lilly Hamilton 4-0-8, Makenzie Maschino 2-0-4, Brenna Miller 0-0-0, Leah Poling 0-0-0. Totals: 25-5-59.

3-point field goals — Franklin Monroe: Morris (4), Shellabarger, McGlinch (2). Covington: Whiteman, Harrington (3).

Score By Quarters: 
Franklin Monroe 7 21 30 47
Covington 14 32 51 59

Records: Franklin Monroe 5-3 (3-2), Covington 8-1 (5-0)

Morgan Kimmel pushes the ball to the basket in transition.
Makenzee Maschino drives to the basket against Franklin Monroe.