BROOKVILLE – For the Bradford girls basketball team, its a return trip to the sectional finals after a year’s absence.
The Railroaders got their second win over Covington this season in a 42-27 victory over Covington in a matchup of three and four seeds in the Brookville D-IV sectional.
“The first game against Covington was close,” Bradford junior point guard Austy Miller said. “I felt like we had this one. It was exciting two years ago (to be in the sectional final) and it is even more exciting this year.”
The Railroaders will play the sixth seed Troy Christian in the title game at 5 p.m. Monday at Fort Loramie High School.
For Covington and coach Brandon Studebaker, it was a tough end to an impressive season.
While Bradford improved to 19-5, Covington finished at 14-8 — much more than was expected from the Buccs at the start of the season.
“Give Bradford credit, they are playing really well,” Studebaker said. “It’s tough when two of your top dawgs go down with game-ending injuries (Gracie Anderson, Claudia Harrington) when you are already battling out of a hole you are in. But, I thought the kids who came in did a great job. They never stopped battling. We were within five in the third quarter and had a chance to get closer.
“We had two freshman starting and we really didn’t have a preseason. We have one scrimmage and go into quarantine. We come back and face Versailles right off the bat. I am really proud of the kids and what we accomplished.”
Bradford coach Chris Besecker said all six of his players who saw action contributed.
:”It was a great team effort,” he said. “Every game is a battle.”
Bradford jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, before Covington began to fight back.
“I was not surprised we had a slow start,” Studebaker, whose team hadn’t been in a gym since Saturday said.
Covington got within two late in the first quarter at 13-11 and got back within five in the third quarter at one point, but were never able to get the lead.
There were several keys to the Bradford win.
Miller nearly matched Covington’s point total with 24 points — coming up with big plays every time she needed it.
“Austy (Miller) is just a great player,” Besecker said. “She makes big shots.”
There was the defensive effort of Cassi Mead.
“I thought that was as big as anything,” Besecker said. ‘The job she did on Carlie (Besecker). She held her to four points and I don’ t know how many lobs she took away.”
And there was the offensive presence of post Remi Harleman.
She scored six points in the second quarter, including a foul-line jumper — and finished with eight points.
That allowed Bradford to open a 24-15 lead at the break.
“We were able to get Remi (Harleman) some really great looks on dribble-drives,” Besecker.
Miller put the final dagger in late in the fourth quarter.
With Bradford leading 34-25, she buried a 3-pointer and Rylee Canan added a steal and a basket to make it 39-25.
“I don’t think it just me,” Miller said. “We are all just looking to make plays.”
Miller added six rebounds to her point total.
Claire Fraley had seven points and seven rebounds for Covington.
Besecker had six rebounds and Hedges scored seven points.
Covington was 10 of 33 from the floor for 30 percent and five of seven from the line for 71 percent.
Bradford was 14 of 32 from the floor for 44 percent and eight of 16 from the line for 50 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 18-17, but had 18 turnovers to Bradford’s 10.
“I feel like we are (still getting better),” Miller said. “I feel like we are coming together as a team.”
And they get another chance to show that Monday against Troy Christian.