By Josh Brown
PLEASANT HILL — Covington held the halftime lead thanks to a sizable advantage on the glass.
So Newton decided to stop missing in the second half.
The Indians (3-2) went 11 for 15 from the field in the third quarter, taking advantage of a number of Buccaneer turnovers and turning what had been a 10-point deficit in the middle of the second quarter into a 57-39 victory Tuesday night at Newton in the second half of a girls-boys doubleheader.
“We got on them at the half, told them that that was not the type of effort we can play with, being as small as we are,” Newton boys basketball coach Mike Albright said. “We told them that we had to play with more effort, and we certainly did that in the third. It was a tale of two halves for us.”
Covington (1-3) took advantage of its height early on — led by Jordan Maschino’s nine points and seven rebounds in the first half — leading by as many as 10 at 23-13 with 1:49 left until the break thanks to a 24-16 rebounding edge. But Brock Jamison hit a pair of free throws then turned a steal into a layup and Nick Honeycutt buried a 3 at the buzzer, cutting the Buccs’ lead to three at 23-20.
“We continue to have to work on our shot selection,” Covington coach Matt Pond said. “We shot 57 percent from 2-point range in the first half, and not quite that (1 for 10) from 3-point range. That’s something that, as a young team, we have to figure out. Right now, we’re playing in spurts.”
Then Newton had a spurt that lasted the entire third quarter.
Jamison, who was held to five points in the first half, scored 11 in the third alone. A Treyton Lavy steal led to a Honeycutt layup, then Jamison cashed in another Lavy steal with a 3 to give the Indians their first lead of the game at 25-23, capping off a 10-0 run going back to the end of the half. After a jumper by Trevor Miller tied the score, the Indians went on an 18-4 tear, spurred largely by seven Bucc turnovers.
Newton had shot 7 for 27 from the field in the first half but went 11 for 15 in the third quarter. During that same stretch, Covington was only 3 for 8, and as a result the Indians led 45-31 heading into the fourth.
“We had talked about how rebounding was going to be an issue tonight. It’s going to be an issue for us all year with our size,” Albright said. “But when we can shoot that kind of percentage, when we can keep our turnovers down and get up and down the floor, we can be awfully good.
“Our best game is getting up and down the floor. We have to take advantage of that. Sometimes we make bad decisions at the end of those runs and we have to reign it in a little, but when we’re making good decisions on the run, we can get up and down the floor pretty quick.”
“They’re an athletic team, and they move the ball well,” Pond said. “We were up 10 at one point in the first half then go in at halftime up three. But a 25-8 quarter like the third, that’s tough to overcome. That’s something that we, as a coaching staff, have to fix. We have to figure out why those runs are happening against our defense.”
The Buccs cut the lead to 12 on a 3 by Maschino in the middle of the fourth and got the ball back with a chance to draw even closer, but a steal-and-layup by McBride made it a 14-point game again. The Indians then closed the game out on a 6-0 run and ran the final 1:30 off the clock.
“Their lineup can give you fits,” Pond said. “They can have four pretty good guards that can handle the ball well out there at one time, and when you’ve got to chase them from behind, that makes it hard.”
Jamison and Honeycutt each scored 16 points to lead the Indians, with Jamison adding eight rebounds and five assists. McBride finished with 14 points, hitting a pair of the Indians’ five 3s on the night, Nelson Clymer added five points and nine rebounds and Lavy had four points and five assists.
Maschino led the Buccs with a double-double, posting a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jayce Pond added 10 points — eight in the first half — and six rebounds and Miller fought through foul trouble all night to score six points.
“We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but as long as we learn from this, we’ll be okay,” Pond said.
Both teams are back at home Friday, with Newton hosting Mississinawa Valley and Covington hosting Twin Valley South.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.