Miami East girls basketball loses to Waynesville in D-III sectional action

COVINGTON — Some seasons success can be measured by wins and losses.

Miami East girls basketball coach Bruce Vanover knows that’s not the way his Vikings squad should be measured.

And he has talked about that throughout the season.

Whether it was Covid, tough losses, injuries — the Vikings dealt with every adversity and never stopped battling.

East closed the season at 12-12 with a 40-25 loss to Waynesville in D-III sectional action Thursday night at Covington.

“The one thing I can say about this team — every night out,” Vanover said. “is they are going to leave everything on the floor. They always did, every single game. I couldn’t ask more of these girls.”

And Thursday was no exception.

It was the same outstanding defensive performance the Vikings have put on display game-in, game-out.

“Our goal is to score 54 points and hold teams to 40 points,” Vanover said. “We accomplished one of those two.”

And East was dealing with the Spartans two pronged attack of junior guard Isabella Cassoni and senior wing Leah Butterbaugh.

“You know (Isabella) Cassoni probably got twice as many points (24) as we wanted,” Vanover said. “The (Leah) Butterbaugh girl, we just didn’t want to let her get to the basket and I thought we did a good job of that.”

Ultimately, the start of the game doomed Miami East.

The Vikings fell behind 9-0.

“Honestly, that was the ball game right there,” Vanover said. “Getting down nine points right away. I know we lost by 15 and they made some shots at the end, but that was really the difference.”

Miami East constantly battled back, though.

Paxton Hunley hit her first three shots to get East within 11-6.

But, Cassoni hit two free throws with no time on the clock to end the first quarter and opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer.

It was 25-15 at halftime, but the Vikings made another run in the third quarter.

Mara Posey scored five straight points and hit a 3-pointer to cut the Waynesville lead to 26-20.

On the next possession, Paxton Hunley just missed on a 3-pointer.

“If that shot goes down, it is 26-23,” Vanover said. “It is a different game.”

Instead, Waynesville opened the lead back up to 32-20 and was in control the rest of the way.

Which has been a story throughout the season.

“We missed a layup one time,” Vanover said. “We had some runners that looked good and just didn’t go down. The shots just didn’t fall. It is a matter of putting the ball in the basket.”

Vanover laments not having the normal gym time in the summer — due to Covid.

“I think that hurt us,” he said. “It would have been nice to have a normal summer, but every team is in that situation. That (offense) is just something we have to continue to work on.”

Posey led the Vikings with 11 points, while Paxton Hunley scored six and Cadence Gross grabbed eight rebounds.

Cassoni had 24 points, including 11 of 16 shooting from the line. Butterbaugh had nine points and eight rebounds and Emma Whittaker and Emme Greely each grabbed five rebounds.

Miami East was 11 of 40 from the floor for 28 percent and missed both of its free throw attempts.

Waynesville was 12 of 33 from the floor for 36 percent and 14 of 21 from the line for 67 percent.

Waynesville won the battle of the boards 30-20 and both teams had 15 turnovers.

Vanover looks towards a bright future.

“We had four seniors,” Vanover said. “Not only was our JV team 18-3, we have a lot coming back. I have to thank the coaches for the countless hours they put in. I felt like we were well prepared for tonight’s game.”

And the Lady Vikings went out leaving it all on the floor — like this team always does.