BY GREG FLINT firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — CAYUGA, Ind. — A two-minute span late in the fourth quarter was the difference when North Vermillion hosted Covington in a boys’ basketball game that the visiting Trojans won 55-45.
At least that is how Falcon head coach Sam Karr saw it.
“We had four turnovers in two minutes and that cost us the game,” Karr said. “We were down maybe one and then we had the turnovers and that was it. That was the game.”
Covington had just scored on a basket by Brennan Wright to lead 41-40. Two minutes later, it was 45-40 as the Trojans converted two of the Falcon turnovers into baskets by Gage Hegg and Jordan Ahrens.
North Vermillion would not score for almost four minutes by which time Covington held a 50-40 lead and the game was out of reach for the Falcons who could only foul vainly in the final moments of the contest.
The final 10-point margin does not reflect the first 28 minutes of the game, as it was back and forth with neither side able to take control.
Covington took a 9-4 lead on baskets by Hegg, Travis Coleman and Chandler Spring, but right after that both Coleman and Spring went to the bench with two fouls each.
North Vermillion then went on a quick run and when Brayden Woodard hit a three-pointer to put the Falcons on top, Covington head coach Kent Chezem had to call a time out.
“I didn’t change anything,” he said about the break. “I simply told them we had to cut off the dribble penetration because it was getting us into foul trouble.”
With two of his starting guards on the bench, Chezem said he needed other players to step up and they did.
Ahrens got a late tip-in to put Covington up 13-12 after the first quarter, but Woodard came back with a trey to open the second period for the Falcons.
Griffin Spring answered with a matching shot for the Trojans, but then North Vermillion went on a 7-0 run in less than a minute.
“I think our quickness surprised them,” is how Karr explained the runs made by his team. “We can’t play at their pace – we don’t want to – but we didn’t make it easy for them.”
Hegg stopped the Falcon run with six points in a row of his own, but North Vermillion got baskets from Jacob Earl and Cody Davis to push the lead right back up.
Halen Noble then hit a trey and Ahrens got a steal and lay-up so the Trojans only trailed by one 28-27 at halftime.
North Vermillion continued to hold the lead most of the third quarter, but a trey from Hegg and a basket from Ahrens put Covington up with three minutes to go in the period.
Woodard hit a shot just before the horn, so the Falcons led 35-34 going into the final quarter.
Covington was still playing without a couple of starters as the fourth quarter began due to more foul trouble, but Spencer McCone came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
After a Coleman lay-up gave the Trojans the lead again, Earl converted a three-point play. It was then that Wright hit the basket for Covington that led into the two minutes that Karr said were crucial.
“We did everything we could,” said Karr after the game. “We wanted a chance to be able to win the game in the fourth quarter and we got it.”
He continued, saying, “But at the end we didn’t execute and that cost us the game. That’s my fault – I need to fix things so we don’t have problems at the end of games – we’ve lost several like this, but we’re getting better and I think we can be a factor in the sectional.”
For Chezem, it was a game that showed the development of his team.
“At the start of the year our depth was a big question, but we’re finding it in games like these. It’s becoming one of our strengths.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at email@example.com