BY GREG FLINT
COVINGTON, Ind. —
The game against Covington started just the way North Vermillion coach Sam Karr wanted it to start.
The Falcons had a 5-4 lead midway through the first quarter thanks in part to their controlling the boards at both ends of the floor.
Then things slowly began to slip away as the Falcons lost to the Trojans 59-41 on Friday in Wabash River Conference action.
“We seem to start a lot of games well,” said Karr, “But we can’t finish them. We have a lot of youth who struggle with confidence at times and it shows.”
Covington was aggressive in the first quarter, perhaps too much so.
“I think we were trying to score ten points every possession,” is how Trojan head coach Kent Chezem put it. “We needed to settle down, but it took us a while.”
North Vermillion got their lead up to four at 10-6 with just two minutes to go in the period when Brayden Woodard hit a jumper.
Covington answered by going on an 8-0 run with Jordan Ahrens scoring six and Alex Frechette kicking in the other two. That put the Trojans up 14-10 going into the second period.
Woodard hit a short jumper to cut the margin back to two, but Chandler Spring hit a trey for Covington. Kody Zumwalt matched that shot for the Falcons, but the Trojans scored the next five to lead 22-16.
It was runs like those that Karr said were the difference in the game.
“Their runs killed us,” he said, “because every time we’d catch up, they’d go on another run and pull away. We’re not a catch up type of offense so we couldn’t match them.”
With two minutes left in the half, Braeden Hollowell hit a three-pointer for North Vermilion to make the score 26-25, but once again Covington made a run — this time for six points to lead 32-25.
“We were down only three then we turn the ball over twice and they score late in the quarter to go up by seven,” said Karr of the rally. “If we don’t do that, we stay close.”
Covington had other ideas and despite good shooting from Woodard and Cody Wright for the Falcons, the Trojans continued to make their mini-runs in the second half, but with a difference.
“I think we handled the ball better,” said Chezem about the start of the third quarter. “We had a lot more patience than we did in the first half and I think we also grew more comfortable with their defense and did some things to handle it better.”
He did not specify what those changes were, but they resulted in Covington getting inside for lay-ups and “and-ones” or whipping the ball back outside for long jumpers.
Chezem also thought his defense played with more intensity in the second half and the stats bear him out.
North Vermillion was able to score only seven points in the third quarter and just nine in the fourth for a total of 16 as compared to 26 in the first half.
In those same periods, Covington struck for 11 and 16 for a total of 27 second half points.
“We couldn’t stop their penetration in the second half,” said Karr. “We didn’t do too badly in the first half, but we needed somebody to step up as a leader.”
He continued, “We talked about that after the game. We have to have someone gather the team in the huddle, take charge and get us going in the right direction. Right now, we have leaders by example, but we don’t have that vocal leader we need.”
Chezem agreed with Karr that the Trojan scoring was due to his team being able to get inside.
He, however, gave the credit to the movement by his team.
“We got better spacing and moved the ball around,” he explained. “That and our patience in looking for a good shot helped us get going.”
Chezem said after a loss to Schlarman Academy last Saturday that he is trying to get his team to focus on one game at a time and thought they did so in this one.
Karr said that while he never likes to lose, he liked the effort put forth by his team and then he added, “not only are they getting better, they’re trying and their coachable and that’s all I can ask.”