Rob Kiser, Piqua Daily Call
COVINGTON - Covington boys basketball coach Matt Pond knew there would be growing pains.
Which is why he saw plenty of positives in the Buccs 56-49 loss to Twin Valley South Tuesday night in CCC action.
"The good news is this is only our second game," Pond said. "We have one starter back. This was the most time most of our kids had spent on the floor in front of a crowd at a varsity basketball game. So, as long as we learn from our mistakes and continue to get better, I am very optimistic."
And the Buccs showed that potential at times Tuesday.
Covington battled back from a 21-4 deficit early in the second quarter to get back within striking distance late in the half.
Two threes by Andre Bendict and a three by Austin Lefeld, followed by a drive to the basket by Drew Schaurer had Covington within 26-22 at the two-minute mark of the half.
"There is no quit in this team, that's for sure," Pond said. "We were right in the game."
But, just as quickly, the Buccs allowed a 3-point play and three by Seth Baker - part of his 25-point first half - that gave the Panthers a 32-22 lead at the break.
"We are capable going on a run," Pond said. "The same thing happened against Versailles. But, in that spurt, we come down and give up an and-one (basket plus a free throw). That is what we can't do. We, including me, need to do a better job of finding the hot shooter. He had 25 of their 32 points in the first half."
Covington stayed closed the rest of the game, but could never put that run together to get over the top.
The Buccs still trailed just 42-35 after three quarters, but struggled to score in the final eight minutes, hitting just four of 11 shots from the floor. Defensively, they were able to force numerous South turnovers with full court pressure.
"But, we couldn't capitalize," Pond said. "We gave it right back to them a couple of times. And when they have a guy going long, we need to recognize that. When they do it the first time, we need to learn from that - it shouldn't happen five more times."
Benedict led the Buccs with 22 points, including five 3-point field goals, while Robert Gengler grabbed nine rebounds.
Baker, a 6-foot-3 junior, finished with 35 points and five 3-point field goals for the Panthers, as Covington limited him to 10 points in the second half.
Covington was 18 of 51 from the floor for 35 percent and four of seven from the line for 57 percent.
Twin Valley South was 19 of 37 from the floor for 51 percent and 12 of 15 from the line for 80 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 21-18 and had 15 turnovers to South's 14.
The Buccs, 0-2, will play at Tri-County North Friday.
Twin Valley South (56)
Jordan Burns 3-0-7, Jake Osborn 2-1-5, Jacob Bassler 0-4-4, J.J. Utz 2-1-5, Seth Baker 12-6-35, Andrew McGuire 0-0-0, Chad Ehler 0-0-0. Totals: 19-12-56.
Andre Benedict 8-1-22, Austin Lefeld 3-0-8, Tyler Henry 2-0-4, Robert Gengler 2-0-4, Seth Clark 0-0-0, Ethan Meyer 1-0-3, Tyler Clark 1-3-6, Drew Schaurer 1-0-2. Totals: 18-4-49.
3-point field goals - Twin Valley South: Burns, Baker (5). Covington: Benedict (5), Lefeld (2), Meyer, T. Clark.
Score By Quarters
TV South - 19 .. 32 .. 42 .. 56
Covington - 4 .. 22 .. 35 .. 49
Records: Covington 0-2 (0-1).