COVINGTON, Ind. – Fountain Central used a strong opening quarter to take a 14-4 lead over Covington en route to a 40-30 win over their hosts.
Maggie Fishero hit the opening basket for the Mustangs, but Avery Chezem countered with a trey to give Covington their only lead on the night at 3-2.
The visitors then went on a 14-1 run to lead 16-4 with less than a minute gone in the second quarter. The lone Trojan point was a free throw by Chezem while the Mustangs got baskets from Fishero, Macee Williams and a three-pointer by Samantha Pigg in that same span.
Chezem stopped the run with a free throw and a lay-up, but Fountain Central came right back with baskets by Fishero and Williams. That duo combined for 30 of the 40 points scored by the Mustangs in the game.
Covington got its first non-Chezem points with 5:12 left in the second quarter when Andi Taylor hit a three-pointer that made the score 20-10, but once again Fountain Central answered with baskets from Fishero and Williams.
Many of the Fishero scoring plays came off passes from point guard Kyla Keeling, an item not lost on Mustang head coach Amie Anthrop.
“Kyla is now playing number one for us all the time,” said Anthrop. “She sees the floor well and gets the ball inside. Maggie is running the floor and looking for the ball.”
At the half, Fountain Central had a comfortable lead at 30-12 – a lead that Anthrop said might have been too comfortable.
“We played a fantastic first half,” she explained, “but we got kind of complacent in the second. We scored 14 points in the first quarter, 16 in the second, but only ten in the entire second half. We need to keep our intensity.”
Covington started to make a comeback as the third quarter began, thanks in part to the shooting of Kendra Wallace. The junior hit back-to-back baskets and the Trojans, noticing her hot hand, began to feed her the ball.
That led to an 8-2 Covington run that pulled the Trojans within fourteen points. Regan Foster and Macie Cooper then added baskets and Chezem more free throws to draw Covington within ten, 36-26, after three quarters.
The pace of the game slowed in the final eight minutes as both teams turned up their defensive pressure and the fouls began to add up.
Covington got as close as eight points at 30-38 on a putback by Foster with 4:48 to go in the game, but the Trojans would not score again.
Fountain Central would only add two more points in that final few minutes – a pair of free throws by Mary Frazee – to make the final score 40-30.
When asked about the game, Covington coach Jeff McCoy would only say that the stats told the story.
The Trojans hit only 10 of 31 from inside the arc and two of 15 from beyond it. The Mustangs took just three long shots, making one, and were 15 of 35 from two-point range.
For Anthrop, the game was a continuation of the improvement shown by her team in their one-point lost on Saturday to Schlarman Academy.
“We’re changing our mentality,” said Anthrop. “We’re getting better and we’re beginning to believe it.”
One reason for that improvement is the implementation of a new defense, one that Anthrop wanted to use in the Bi-County tournament but could not because of a player’s illness.
“We wanted to use it then, but couldn’t and we didn’t want to try it against Bell [of Schlarman who scored 29 points] because of her style of play”
She continued, saying, “But tonight we got to use it. We wanted to shut down 12 [Taylor] and 24 [Chezem] and I think we did. We kept Chezem to 11 points which is six below her average.”
Anthrop closed the way she started her post-game comments by saying,”We’ve been trying to get better and we are.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org