The Covington Lady Buccs saw a great season come to an abrupt end with a stunning 49-38 defeat to Bradford in the sectional final.
It wasn’t the ending Covington envisioned, especially considering how battle tested the Lady Buccs were in compiling a 20-4 record heading into the sectional final against neighboring rival Bradford.
But when you are facing a team with a player the caliber of Austy Miller, there are no guarantees.
Covington found out in heartbreaking fashion as Bradford stunned the Lady Buccs 49-38 at Trotwood High School.
The difference – well, it was Austy Miller. She was a one-person wrecking crew as she scored a game-high 26 points and single handily got Covington into foul trouble. In all, three Lady Buccs fouled out – Claudia Harrington, Carly Besecker and Maggie Anderson.
Early on, however, it appeared as though Covington had too much size and firepower for Bradford as the Lady Buccs built a 14-6 lead after one.
But early in the second quarter Carly Besecker picked up her third foul (all while guarding Austy Miller), forcing Covington coach Brandon Studebaker to tap into his bench.
“We got off to a good start,” Studebaker said about a 14-6 first quarter lead. “We had chances to expand the lead in the second quarter from the line and didn’t. We just didn’t hit shots today.”
Bradford took advantage by outscoring Covington 18-9 in the frame, capped by a half court buzzer beater by Rylee Canan to give the Railroaders a 24-23 lead at the break – just after Harrington hit a three-pointer for Covington at the other end.
“We hit the three-point shot we wanted to take the lead,” Studebaker explained. “Then we don’t play defense and she (Rylee Canan) hits a half court shot.”
Canan, who had struggled shooting the ball in Bradford’s double-overtime win over Springfield Catholic last Tuesday, drilled two more treys in the third and another trey by Miller pushed the Railroader lead to 37-27 late in the third.
Covington was able to close the gap to 37-31 at the end of the frame, but Bradford used the clock to its advantage in the fourth period.
After the Lady Buccs connected on a bucket to cut the deficit to 37-33, Bradford ate nearly 4:00 off the clock on its next possession and in the process Covington’s Carly Besecker fouled out after picking up two quick fouls.
“I remember looking up and seeing we were down four,” Studebaker said. “You can’t start fouling that early. They make their free throws, so you just have to use ball pressure and try to get a turnover.”
With a ball handler like Austy Miller, Bradford wasn’t interested in trying to score quickly.
“You have to milk that clock in that situation,” said Bradford coach, Chris Besecker. “You have to. Neither team had a lot of depth.”
After running a least another minute off the clock, Miller hit a 3-pointer to make it 40-33 and Covington would score just five points the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Claudia Harrington and Maggie Anderson both fouled out as Bradford pulled away by canning free throws for the 11-point win.
Bradford was 13 of 36 from the floor for 36 percent and 16 of 21 from the line for 76 percent.
Covington was 14 of 40 from the floor for 35 percent and seven of 11 from the line for 64 percent.
Bradford won the battle of the boards 23-20 and had seven turnovers to Covington’s 14.
Covington closes the season at 20-5.
“We had a really good year,” Studebaker said. “We won a league title. We battled to the end today. We didn’t quit. The kids have a lot to be proud of.”
Covington: 14 – 09 – 08 – 07 = 38
Bradford: 06 – 18 – 13 – 12 = 49
Covington – 38
11-2pt FG, 3-3pt FG (G. Anderson, M. Anderson, Harrington) 7/11 FT
Maggie Anderson – 11
Claudia Harrington 11
Gracie Anderson – 6
Claire Fraley – 6
Carlie Besecker – 4
Bradford – 49
6-2pt FG, 7-3pt FG (Canan 4, Miller 3), 16/21 FT
Austy Miller – 26
Rylee Canan – 13
Isabella Hamilton – 5
Abby Fike – 4
Brooklyn Crickmore – 1