BY GREG FLINT
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
Experience may have been the difference when Fountain Central hosted Covington on Friday. The two teams traded leads throughout most of the game, but in the final few minutes, the Mustangs took control and won 65-58.
There were 15 lead changes and eight ties in the game before Fountain Central took the lead for good at 54-51 on an inbounds trey from Koby Pierce with 5:41 left in the game.
After that point in the contest, Covington was never able to pull closer than one and had to resort to fouling as the final minute ran off the clock, allowing the hosts to extend their lead to the final margin of seven.
Despite the loss, Trojan head coach Kent Chezem said he liked what he saw, but did not go into specifics.
“We were light years ahead of where we were last week,” he said. “It’s not just one or two things, it was our overall play.”
He particularly liked the way his team played in the first half when the Trojans, down five after a Luke Davenport trey, went on a 13-4 run to lead 17-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Fountain Central fought back in the second period by going on an 8-2 run, but Covington answered with a three by Travis Coleman to regain the lead.
The Mustangs eventually opened a small 31-28 lead in the final 40 seconds of the half, but the Trojans scored four in a row to lead 32-31, a point that did not sit well with Fountain Central head coach Jason Good.
“I thought with our experience we should have done a better job of closing out the first half,” he said. “We made some turnovers and gave them some easy baskets at the end.”
Both teams had chances to pull away in the third quarter, but each mini-run was matched by a similar one by the opponent.
In one 70-second span in the period, Michael Duane put the Mustangs up three then Coleman scored four on a trey with a foul to give the Trojans the lead by one. Sam Woodrow countered with a layup to flip the lead only to see Craig Root do the same to put the visitors up 49-48 at the end of the period.
The final tie of the game came at the 6:51 mark of the fourth quarter when Brennan Wright hit one of two free throws to make the score 51-51.
Pierce hit his trey about a minute later to Fountain Central on top. Covington tried to come back, but was out executed according to their coach.
“When we cut it to one, they executed better than we did,” said Chezem. “We don’t have the experience they do and it showed.”
That thought was echoed by Davenport who spoke about the final minutes.
“We had to keep our composure out there,” he said. “We had to stay calm, make good passes and be smart. We were in the lead so they had to force things.”
He added, “We’ve been in that situation before and we know what we’re supposed to do. We trust each other because we’ve played together so much.”
Chezem said his team also hurt themselves by getting into foul trouble.
“We have to play better defense,” he said. “We got a lot of fouls by being out of position. We played well in the first half, but not as well in the second and it hurt us.”
Good concurred with Chezem about the final period, saying, “We closed out the fourth quarter the way I wish we would have done it at the end of the first half. We were patient, rebounded well and did what we were supposed to do.”