COVINGTON — If you had told Brandon Studebaker a month ago the Covington girls basketball team would be 6-2 and keeping the hardware at home in the Buccaneer Holiday Classic, he would have taken it in a second.
But, that exactly where the Lady Buccs coach has his team after a 57-42 win over Graham in the championship game of the Buccaneer Holiday Classic Tuesday, while Graham dropped to 4-5.
Covington started the season in quarantine, was missing one of their top players in Claudia Harrington for much of the early season and went into their first game with Versailles with no scrimmages and limited practice — on a team that starts two sophomores and has just one senior.
“No, I didn’t (expect to be 6-2),” Studebaker said. “It is tough. But, these kids have done a great job. You never know when your next game or practice is going to be.”
Freshman Carlie Besecker finished off a 47-point tournament to earn MVP honors with 22 points against Graham, while Harrington and Claire Fraley were both named to the all-tournament team, along with Lauren Bailey and Lexi King of Graham and Madison Jones of Milton-Union.
But, if anything, Studebaker liked his team’s performance even more Tuesday, despite Besecker and Harrington scoring 25 points each Monday.
Because, Ellie Hedges and Gracie Anderson were involved offensively as well Tuesday.
“I just think it makes us harder to guard when we have that many people scoring,” Studebaker said. “But, the other players were all doing the same things to contribute.”
And the win certainly did not come easy.
Graham came out firing to take a quick 7-0 lead.
“We got off to a slow start,” Studebaker said. “I was kind of expecting that. We had just played the day before. It was not like we had fresh legs. But, we recovered pretty quickly.”
With Covington trailing 7-2, Besecker showed her value.
She scored two straight baskets, then dished to Anderson to give Covington an 8-7 lead.
“Once Carlie (Besecker) gets going, she is tough to stop,” Studebaker said. “And you know she will get going. She hit a few shots and that got her going.”
Hedges had eight points in the second quarter, including a three when Covington was trailing 14-10 and a three to put them up 24-19. Anderson had four points in the first half and hit a three in the third quarter.
“Both of those girls made some big shots for us,” Studebaker said.
After a 10-10 deadlock after one, Covington led 26-16 at halftime and 44-24 after three quarters.
Harrington scored 13 points and both Hedges and Anderson added eight.
Abby Yukon scored 15 points for Graham, while Arial Cupps scored 11 and Lexi King added 10
Now, Covington gets a break — off until Jan. 7 when they play Newton — after a championship start to the season.
MU 51, Newton 32
The Milton-Union girls basketball team may have been disappointed with their effort against Covington in the opening round of the Buccaneer Holiday Classic.
But, it didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to put that behind them.
Milton used full-court pressure to jump out to a 7-0 lead and never trailed in a 51-32 win over Newton in the consolation game Tuesday.
“We had a talk about that this morning (before the game),” Milton-Union coach Katie Roose said. “That how we responded to Monday’s game was going to be important.”
Newton coach Ryan Fiely said the difference was clear.
“They just came out with more energy than we did,” he said. “We knew what we had to do (to beat the press). We just didn’t do it until it was way too late.”
Milton-Union used a balanced attack.
Madison Jones and Jayla Gentry led the way with 10 points each, Morgan Grudich netted eight, Rachel Jacob scored seven and Ava Berberich and Shannon Brumbaugh both scored six.
“We have had pretty good balance all year,” Roose said.
Brumbaugh had a number of offensive rebounds and scored five of her six in the second quarter.
“Shannon (Brumbaugh) is just a freshman, but she is coming along,” Roose said. “She is still playing some JV, but we are looking for her to play a bigger role as the season goes on.”
Milton-Union led 16-9, 24-16 and 42-21 at the quarter breaks.
The Bulldogs are now 5-3.
“I am (happy with where they are),” Roose said. “But, we have some big games next. We have four games in six days, so we are going to have to step up.”
Newton dropped 3-5.
Hess led the Indians with nine points and Mercedes Craig scored eight.
“We just have to get back in the gym and keep working and get ready for our next game Monday.”
Newton will play at Houston Monday, while Milton-Union will play the fourth of eight straight road games Monday when they travel to Brookville.