COVINGTON, Ind. — Just getting back onto the basketball court was a successful start to the weekend for the Covington Trojans.
After playing four games in 11 days, Covington’s season was put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Playing for the first time in 16 days on Friday, the Trojans defeated the Riverton Parke Panthers 63-49 and then on Saturday Covington pulled out a 58-53 triumph over the West Lafayette Red Devils.
“I’m extremely proud of our effort,’’ said Covington coach Shaun Busick. “West Lafayette is a quality team and (Brandon) Shrewsberry is as good a shooter as we will face this whole season.’’
Shrewsberry finished with 16 points, but the 6-foot-2 sophomore guard was just 6-of-14 from the field and 4-of-12 from 3-point range.
Covington senior Logan Pinkerton followed up his 30-point performance against Riverton Parke with 20 points in the win over West Lafayette, including nine in the fourth quarter as the Trojans overcame as much as a 7-point deficit.
“We had lost our last two games at home and I think it sparked a flame in us that we weren’t going to let anyone take a game from us at home,’’ said Pinkerton, who was the subject of a diamond-and-1 defense by the Red Devils. “It was frustrating at times, but my teammates stepped up.’’
In particular, Covington junior Neil Ellmore and sophomore Duncan Keller made significant contributions as they combined for 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“We need easy buckets from those guys,’’ Pinkerton said. “When they score, it makes the defense worry about everyone than just concentrating on one or two players.’’
Covington, which improved to 4-2 overall, converted 14 of its final 19 possessions into points with Keller making 4-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to preserve the victory.
“When they went box-and-1 on Pinkerton, it threw us for a loop a little bit and it caused them to go on a run,’’ Busick said. “We made a decision on the bench to switch up to our man-to-man offense and we started getting some easy buckets.’’
Busick acknowledged that Covington had only had a handful of practices last week before the back-to-back home games.
“Getting our health and our legs,’’ said Busick when asked what he was looking for from his team. “I didn’t come back until Wednesday after my bout. Quite honestly, I’m just happy to be back. We had three players that was just released this week.
“It is really difficult to get back on the court, especially on back-to-back nights but no one complained or used it as an excuse.’’
According to Busick that’s a credit to the Covington program and it’s leadership from players like Pinkerton, Alan Karrfalt and Savion Waddell, who had 11 points and 8 rebounds on Saturday night.
“Being out, sucks, but it happens with how the world works right now,’’ Pinkerton said. “I just like being on the floor with my teammates and playing the sport that I love.’’
So, how did the Covington leaders keep its team together during this latest pause for health and safety protocols?
“Staying positive,’’ Pinkerton said. “Even though we have been out, we didn’t get down on ourselves. All of us were just excited to play (Friday) and tonight.
“I think it was our adrenaline that carried us through these two games.’’
The Trojans have another two-game weekend coming up as Covington host Parke Heritage on Friday before traveling to play Benton Central on Saturday.