NEW MADISON – Tri-Village came into the game Thursday night with the first of three crucial stretch of games that will test the Pats and it was the Covington Buccs.
Tri-Village has had a relatively easy time up to this point in, accumulating a 7-0 record.
Covington was ready to give the Patriots a good test, and the reserve game should have been an indicator it wasn’t going to be easy. The two teams battled to two overtimes with the Buccs giving the Patriots their first lost of the year, 35-32.
The momentum of that game carried over into the varsity contest as the Lady Buccs eked out a 9-8 first quarter advantage behind the play of junior Jackie Siefring on six points in the paint.
Ecko Brown hit a couple of jumpers along with a fielder from Teha Richards and Raya Mikesell to keep it close.
The Patriots struggled in the second period to get their fast paced high-powered offense going as Covington handled the pressure and controlled the tempo.
Covington showed patience in its half court offense as the Buccs went on to claim a 22-20-halftime lead.
Raya Mikesell off the bench was a bright spot for Tri-Village as she scored six points including a basket to tie the game at 20-20.
Not only did the Buccs control the tempo, they owned the glass with a 24-15 advantage at the half.
“We had some kids who didn’t get off to a good start tonight, Tri-Village coach Brad Gray said. “And they let it affect their play.
“They can’t pout when things don’t go right; there are other ways they can help contribute to the teams success. It’s not all about scoring. A rebound here, a defensive stop there and assist for an easy basket all helps our team.”
Tri-Village got it rolling offensively in the third frame, scoring 20 points to match their entire effort in the first half and a 40-35 lead.
Tri-Village was able to increase its lead to eight points a couple of times in the final stanza … but each time it did Covington found a way to keep within striking distance.
Three straight free throws by Shaye Thomas gave the Pat a 49-41 lead with 29 seconds to play … Covington wasn’t throwing in the towel.
Cassidy Cain hit a deuce on a drive to cut it 49-43, followed by a steal and a basket by Brittany Flora with 10 seconds to play cut it to 49-45 … but the Buccs simply ran out of time.
“It’s always our goal to win, and we came over here expecting to win, but our kids should feel proud of themselves,” Covington coach Gene Gooding said. “Our girls left it all on the court tonight, and I couldn’t be more proud of them for that.
“They (Tri-Village) has scored 97 and 102 points in there last two games, and we held them to 49,” Gooding said. “Our defense kept us in the game. All of the girls played heir hearts out tonight.
“Give them credit, they still have a lot of athletes (from last year),” Gooding said. “Sure, they lost the Linkous girl, but they have a lot back. It seems like they’ve been blowing everybody out. They’re good.”
Tri-Village breathed a sigh of relief knowing it didn’t put forth its best effort to gain the conference win and they found out that teams like Covington aren’t going to just hand them the game. The Buccs gave the Patriots a test they needed and T-V found a way to gain the win while not playing their best.
“As a coach we want the win, and I’m glad we got to put a “W” in the win column … but it felt like a loss. It was a pathetic performance, and I’m not pleased with the way we handled our play tonight. Our kids have to grow up quick and learn quickly from tonight as New Bremen comes in on Saturday and then our meeting at Miami East,”Gray said.
Teha Richards and Shaye Thomas both tallied 12 for the Patriots and Ecko Brown 10 in the win.
Covington showed good balance and was led by Heidi Snipes and Jackie Siefring with 10 points each.
In junior varsity action Taylor Dubbs led the Patriots with 14 points.