VEEDERSBURG, Ind. — With each long-range shot, the Covington Crazies went wild.
And while the Trojans had built an 18-12 lead with 88.8 percent shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, it was the team’s defense that allowed Covington to claim its third straight Bi-County Holiday Tournament title with a 61-32 victory over the Fountain Central Mustangs.
“Hit those first few shots, got us going and they got our crowd going,’’ said Covington senior Jordan Ahrens. “Thankfully our shooting really helped us build some momentum until we were able to get our defense corrected.’’
That’s right, the third-rated Trojans (12-1) felt they needed to do more.
“We focus a lot on defense, it’s the heart of our playbook,’’ said Covington senior Chandler Spring. “Most people like to talk about points and stuff. But when we force turnovers, we turn them into points. That’s really the untold story behind our points.’’
Ahrens agreed completely.
“I know a lot of people like to watch us because of our offense,’’ he said. “But, we are a defensive-oriented team. We spend more than half of our time in practice working on the defense, from our positioning to getting after the ball.
“Coach (Kent) Chezem talks a lot about how our defense is so important to our success.’’
That was definitely the case this weekend as the Trojans held the Seeger Patriots to 30 points on Friday night and Fountain Central finished with 32, including just 11 in the second half.
“We had a really good effort up at Highland,’’ said Chezem, whose team suffered its only loss (64-56) to Class 3A state-ranked Griffith. “I thought we really improved the level of our play, and I thought we brought that in the Bi-County Tournament.’’
Fountain Central, which falls to 8-5 with the loss, got as close as nine (34-25) early in the third quarter, but Covington went on a 9-0 run with six of those points coming off three steals by Ahrens.
“What they do so well is that they are so fast to loose balls and long rebounds,’’ Fountain Central coach Jason Good said. “I thought offensively in the first half, we played great, but we were scoring two and they scored three on each made shot.
“Over the course of 32 minutes, they win so many of those loose balls and long rebounds, because they are so persistent after the ball, it was too much for us.’’
Ahrens finished with near ideal statistical line. He had a game-high 19 points, pulled down seven rebounds, dished out five assists and he had a game-high seven steals.
“You quickly realize the number of steals that we got and number of easy baskets that we got off of them, that defense is just as important as offense,’’ Ahrens said.
And what about making 7-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half?
“Yeah, we can really stretch the floor with our shooters,’’ he said. “It makes hard for people to guard us. We want to spread the floor, dribble drive and kick it for an easy 3.’’
But the duo of Koby Pierce and Ethan Woodrow kept the Mustangs within reach. They combined for 18 first-half points, but in the final 16 minutes, they managed just eight.
“If we were going to limit their offense, we had to shut down the penetration,’’ said Spring, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Chezem admitted that it took a really good effort to hold the Mustangs to season-low 32 points, including just 11 in the second half.
And Good acknowledged that part of the problem for Fountain Central was the fact that the Mustangs played nine games in just over two weeks.
“For the first time, I think we played too much basketball,’’ he said. “We were just gassed in the second half and it showed.’’
Attica 48 Seeger 44
Kenny Little made a pair of free throws in the final minute to secure the victory for the Red Ramblers.
Little finished with 18 points while Keetin Arnold chipped in with 11 as Attica improved to 4-4 with the win.
Borden Kennedy had a game-high 20 points for Seeger, which falls to 4-7.