By Ben Robinson
PIQUA — A month ago the Covington Buccaneers walked off the home floor stunned after Fairlawn’s Ashton Piper drilled a buzzer-beater in overtime to hand the Buccs a one-point loss, 60-59.
It was another of those type of nights for Covington, a night where the Buccs dropped yet another close game.
Close games have not been kind to Covington this season as eight of its 13 losses have come by five points or less.
And with Fairlawn leading 52-48 with just over 3:00 to go during the rematch in the opening round in the Piqua D-IV sectional Saturday at Garbry Gymnasium, it appeared as though the Buccaneers were in for another heartbreak.
But Covington went on a 12-0 run in just over 2:00 – a scoring run that didn’t end until a three-pointer by Isaac Ambos with 51 seconds left in the game to make the score 60-55 in favor of the Buccaneers.
From there it was a matter of making foul shots, which Covington was able to do by canning seven of eight in the final minute to preserve the 67-59 win.
Covington advances to play Troy Christian at 6 p.m. Thursday in the second round.
The rim wasn’t kind to Covington early as the Buccaneers only managed three buckets in the opening frame – all by Kadin Presser.
Meanwhile, Fairlawn was hot from the floor, canning seven buckets in the opening stanza. But the Jets missed on three of five free throws.
Fortunately the Buccs made five of six free throws in the period. This led to a manageable 16-11 deficit for Covington.
Fairlawn pushed its lead to 22-15 early in the second, but Covington went on a 9-0 run to take the lead, 24-22.
It was a back-and-forth contest over the remainder of the first half as the game was a one-point affair in favor of Fairlawn at the break, 32-31.
The trend continued to start the second half as neither team could gain much of an advantage on the scoreboard.
But big buckets by Presser, Zach Kuntz and a trey by Wes Gooding kept Covington within one point with just seconds left in the frame.
That’s when junior Jaden Barhorst made a miraculous shot at the buzzer on a stick back to give Covington a 46-45 lead with one period to play.
The momentum swung in favor of Fairlawn to start the fourth as Skyler Piper hit on a trey and Dominic Davis connected on a pair of buckets inside to spark a 52-48 Jet lead and force a Covington timeout with just over 3:00 left on the clock.
And the momentum swung in a hurry fro Covington as Zach Kuntz hit on a runner and a jumper, while Maschino scored on a layup off of a steal.
It sparked the 12-0 run, which forced Fairlawn to foul down the stretch.
And Covington was able to close the show at the free throw line, making seven of eight in the final minute.
In all, Covington converted on 25 of 33 free throws – 13 of 17 coming in the fourth quarter alone. Fairlwan was 7 of 20 from the line.
Four Buccaneers scored in double figures with Zach Kuntz leading the way with a game-high 19 points. Kadin Presser had 18, while Kleyton Maschino scored 13 and Spencer Brumbaugh had 10.