FEBRUARY 28, 2019 - COVINGTON
For being in such a small community, Covington High School has a proud athletic tradition producing many outstanding teams and athletes over the years.
But there are some individuals who are rare athletes - the type that just don't come along very often - who leave a lasting legacy on a program when their time is over. Athletes like Bob Hartley, Tom Dunn, the Vogler Twins (Tim and Terry), Judy Miller, Kelly Deeter, Lynnette Roeth, Logan Brown, A.J. Ouellette, Jackie Siefring, to name a few. They are once-in-a-generation athletes.
And now that her unbelievable high school basketball career is complete, Samantha Whiteman, simply known as SAMMI, can easily be ranked among the best of the best in the history of Covington athletics.
"I always talk to Sammi about being a generational player," said Covington girls basketball coach Jim Meyer after Whiteman set the new career scoring record in Covington basketball recently. "It was the same with Lynnette (Roeth). It says a lot of Judy (Miller) and Lynnette (Roeth) that they came to watch her break the record."
Judy Miller was the first to set the standard in girls basketball and actually put the program on the map. Lady Buccs basketball began in 1974-75 and shortly thereafter Miller became the first female basketball player in Covington history to score over 1000 career points as she accumulated 1396 points from 1976-80. She still holds the highest career points-per-game average with 19.9.
Miller's career scoring record stood for 12 years until Lynnette Roeth broke the record during the 1991-92 season and ultimately finished her career with 1879 points. In the process, Roeth became just the third female in school history to score over 1000 career points, the others being Miller (1396) and Cindy Byers, who scored 1061 points from 1980-82. Roeth also set the career assists record (285), the career steals record (243) and set the record for the most points scored in a season in 1991-92 with 603 points. (The steals and assists records would ultimately be broke by Sammi Whiteman.)
Roeth, who went on to excel at the University of Cincinnati, saw four players score over 1,000 career points - Erica Bowman (1495 from 1992-96), Emily Enderle (1065 from 1995-99), Michelle Meyer (1560 from 2002-06) and Jessie Crowell (1141 from 2012-16), but none were able to surpass her career mark of 1879 points until Sammi Whiteman came along.
Roeth's career scoring record stood for 27 years, but Whiteman was able to break it on February 20th on a three-point shot against Dayton Jefferson in the sectional tournament at Brookville High School.
And Roeth was on hand with Judy Miller that night to witness history.
"I remember the night I broke the record (set by Miller), Judy was there to cheer me on," Roeth said. "That stuck with me and I told myself that if someone was close to breaking my record I would be there to cheer them on too. I'm so very excited for Sammi because I know how it feels to accomplish something like that."
Whiteman ultimately finished her career with 1893 career points - the most of any Covington athlete (boys or girls) and the second most of the history of Miami County girls' basketball behind the 2212 career points put up by Kelly Lyons of Bethel in the 1980s.
But Whiteman's career isn't defined just by points as the other records she set in a Covington uniform proved she was an all-around team player.
Whiteman ranks first in career steals (266) and career assists (353) - and she's second to Erica Bowman (937) in career rebounds with 696. She also has the career record for most games played (100), most field goals (734), the best free throw percentage in a season (81.3%) and has three of the top five best scoring seasons in school history - 2nd with 588 in 2018-19, 3rd with 526 in 2017-18 and 5th with 469 in 2016-17. Whiteman also has the school records for averaging the most points-per-game in a season with 24.5 in 2018-19 and scoring the most points in a game with 41 against Bethel on January 30, 2018.
But as much as the individual records mean, what means more is winning.
And the teams Whiteman has been on over her four years have been some of the winningest teams in school history as she has been on three straight 20-win teams.
The only other 1000-point scorer in school history to win 20 or more games in three seasons was Michelle Meyer (2002-06). Meyer also has been a part of the most wins in school history with 79, while Whiteman is second with 75.
Finally, the sign of a team player is being durable and available. In spite of being the focus of every opponent's defensive strategy on a nightly basis, Whiteman missed just one game in her four-year career - a 51-36 loss to Springfield Shawnee on December 27, 2017.
But with all of the records, wins and accomplishments, the mark of a great player is how they impacted a program while they were there.
To Jim Meyer, Whiteman was the face of the program.
"She has been the face of Covington girls basketball for the last three years," Meyer said. "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."
She is a generational player.
SAMMI WHITEMAN BY THE NUMBERS:
1893 career points (School Record)
266 career steals (School Record)
353 career assists (School Record)
734 career field goals (School Record)
100 career games played (School Record)
81.3 free throw percentage in a season (School Record)
24.5 points-per-game in a season (School Record)
231 field goals in a season (School Record)
41 points in a game (School Record)
75 career wins (2nd in School History)
696 career rebounds (2nd in School History)
588 points in a season (2nd in School History)