Twin Valley South survives scare from CCC rival Covington

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Twin Valley South 57, Covington 55
Looking for a darkhorse in the upcoming Division IV boys basketball
sectional at Piqua High School? Look no farther than Covington.On Friday, the Twin Valley South Panthers (15-3, 10-1 CCC) didn’t get
an easy time from their Cross County Conference rivals the Buccaneers.
They got the tar scared out of them before surviving, 57-55. Covington (5-13, 3-8 CCC) isn’t your average team.


COVINGTON— Looking for a darkhorse in the upcoming Division IV boys basketball sectional at Piqua High School? Look no farther than Covington.

On Friday, the Twin Valley South Panthers (15-3, 10-1 CCC) didn’t get an easy time from their Cross County Conference rivals the Buccaneers. They got the tar scared out of them before surviving, 57-55.

Covington (5-13, 3-8 CCC) isn’t your average team. Last fall, many of these same players were stars on a dominant playoff team. They may lose a lot of basketball games, but they aren’t losers. They are very serious. They are well coached and they are extremely physical.

The Buccs bring football players at you in waves. On Friday night, they had 27 points off of the bench. They patiently ran their offense (17 assists to 12 for TVS), and they out rebounded the Panthers (25-20).

“My God, we survived!” an exasperated TVS head coach Tony Augspurger said after the game. “We had such a big win against Miami East (62-51) on Tuesday night. It was a big showdown game (they had only 2 league losses) and we played really well; but tonight was something else.

“No matter what Covington’s record is, they are a hard-nosed group.”

If the home team hadn’t turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter on this Senior night (another red flag) they might well have won the game. And while it is obvious that TVS is a very accomplished squad and a serious contender in the upcoming tournament, it is equally obvious that Covington should have won this contest.

“They are a well-coached team, while we are at a stage where we are trying to get better,” Covington head coach Roger Craft said. “TVS looked like they were really tight before the game for some reason and we took it to them early. Like a good veteran team, though, they responded. We needed a couple more plays along the line and we didn’t get them.”

I could waste your time with a play-by-play, but let it suffice to say that smooth CCC Player-of-the-year candidate Steve Summers scored 8 clutch points in the final moments of this game to wrap it up for TVS. Despite the fact they had called off school due to inclement weather earlier in the day, the rest of this game was hotly contested.

“We made some plays when we had to make them but we have to play better tomorrow night,” TVS sophomore point guard Clint Spitler said after the game. “We have to rebound to win.”

Spitler lead the Panther’s in scoring with 17 points (6 rebounds, 3 assists). J.T. Stone (13 points, 4 rebounds) and Summers (12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) joined him in double figures. Austin Schmidt (6 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound) and Ryan Innis (9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) rounded out the scoring.

Those were the five players that started the game for TVS and no one else scored. Ten Buccaneers played meaningful minutes and 8 of them scored.

Jordy Burelison led Covington with 11 points (2 rebounds, 2 assists). Ben Christian came off the bench to join him in double figures (10 points, 2 rebounds, and a block). Adam Craft (7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Kyle Kanet (5 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds), Nate Lavey (5 points), Jordy Meyer (4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block), Andy Sparks (7 points), and Kody Thiebeau (9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) rounded out the scoring.

If any coaches are reading this in time, maybe this will help: Covington uses their center (Meyer) in the high post, and they run a motion offense. On defense they play a 2-3 zone, but if you have already drawn your seed you are probably too late to do anything about it now.

TVS played man-to man all night, picking up the ball handler at mid-court on most occasions. You might not want to play them either.

“It was their Senior night and they came in and scrapped with us,” Augspurger laughed. “We let them get some confidence and when you are confident and you are the underdog and you are playing at home—all of a sudden the rim starts looking a little bigger.

“I thought my kids re-evaluated their situation in the fourth quarter. They decided that they weren’t going to blow a chance at winning the league title outright. I thought, considering it all, that my team came through when it mattered.”

That is something that is really valuable come tournament time. Even better, the Panther’s roster is dotted with big kids and next year looks very promising.

“We’re big, but our line-up isn’t abnormally big. We’re big/young. We’re building experience right now with a lot of players, but my sophomore point guard (Spitler) really picked things up for us tonight. So, we’ll see.”

“We think that Steve Summers should be the CCC-POY, but he was in the hospital last night with a 102 degree fever. Ryan Innis wasn’t himself either and he managed to hit a key bucket for us. Still, I’m not making any excuses because it was Covington that made this such a competitive game.”

On Saturday night both of these teams will have to turn around and play again. TVS travels to Brookville (10-7, 6-4 SWBL-SW) and Covington plays host to Delphos St. John’s (6-10, 0-7 MAC).

Former Buccaneer star quarterback and 2006 graduate, Gene Studebaker, was at the game. He has transferred to Edison State College from Wittenberg University and is either going to play two years of baseball there or possibly transfer to Eastern Michigan to play football and finish his degree.

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