| VIEW LADY BUCCS ROSTER |
By Rob Kiser - Piqua Daily Call
Coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons under coach Jim Meyer, there is good news and bad news for this year’s Lady Buccs basketball team that advanced to the regional semifinals last year.
The bad news is Covington must replace the contributions of Tori Lyle and Jordan Crowell.
"Even though Tori (Lyle) wasn't that tall, she was such a technician out there," Meyer said. "She was so fundamentally sound and gave you everything she had. Jordan (Crowell) just made so many big shots for us at the end of games. We are going to miss them."
The good news is there is one more year in the Sammi Whiteman era.
Whiteman, who is already the fifth all-time leading scorer at Covington with 1,305 points - is a lot more than that.
The 5-foot-7 senior, who averaged 20.2 points, also led the team with 8.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
"Sammi (Whiteman) is a hard worker and very deserving of everything she gets," Meyer said. "She is a gym rat. She is always in here working to get better. But, she makes everyone else around her better too."
In fact, Meyer feels that way about his senior class.
They include 6-foot post Lilli Hamilton, 5-10 post Lauren Christian and 5-7 post Leah Poling.
Hamilton averaged 5.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a year ago.
"Lauren (Christian) is a physical player inside," Meyer said. "Lilli (Hamilton) has the length to block other team's shots. And both of them can score inside. Leah (Poling) is a solid player up from the JV team. I feel like our senior class is strong. They are doing all the things they should be doing to make this team better."
Juniors Morgan Kimmel (5-6) and Morgan Lowe (5-5) are back. Both picked up valuable experience last season.
"They are both starting right now due to some injuries," Meyer said. "That is the biggest issue we have right now. Both of them came up big in games for us last year, more so later in the season. Morgan (Lowe) will be at a guard position and gives us a lot of quickness. Morgan (Kimmel) is like Tori (Lyle). Even though she is not tall, her physical strength will allow her to play inside."
Rounding out the junior class are 5-4 guard Breanna Miller, 5-4 guard Autumn Rich and 5-8 wing Josie Crowell.
"Josie (Crowell) had knee surgery last spring. It would be a miracle if we got her back for the end of the season," Meyer said. "Breanna (Miller) had a great first week, but she has been down with illness since. We will get her back at some point."
Two freshman who will see varsity time are 5-10 Makenzee Maschino and 5-5 Claudia Harrington.
"Because of the injuries, we brought two freshman up," Meyer said. "The biggest thing is just the learning curve of adjusting to the high school level. Makenzee (Maschino) has a lot of athletic ability. Claudia (Harrington) is a point guard by nature, but is going to have to play a wing for us."
Meyer’s approach on offense and defense won’t change.
"We are going to take what the other team gives us," he said. "Defensively, it is going to be dictated by the team we are playing. We will play man or zone or do whatever we have to do to stop the team we are playing."
Covington again plays a rugged non-conference schedule, which includes the likes of D-III state runner-up from a year ago in Versailles. And Meyer expects the CCC to be as strong as ever.
"You have the same teams at the top in Tri-Village, Miami East, Arcanum and Franklin Monroe," he said. "And then you have a group of teams like Bethel, Bradford and National Trail with a lot of young talent."
And in the end, you can expect the Lady Buccs to be right there - as they have been for the last two seasons.