Bryson Hite land the Buccs played hard, but fell to Jackson Center to end the season with a 9-15 record. ©Ben Robinson/Color Green Photo

PIQUA – The Covington Buccaneers saw their season come to a close with a 47-25 defeat to Jackson Center in the second round of the sectional tournament at Piqua High School, but this season may be the turning point for the program.

The reason, the philosophy of first-year coach Logan Carey and the progression of the team thanks to the leadership and buy-in of the five seniors – Bryson Hite, Connor Humphrey, Britton Miller, Gunner Kimmel and Sam Grabeman.

And coach Carey had a great message to everyone.

“As far as the season goes, I’m super proud of everybody,” he said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors. They set the foundation for the way things should be done, and hopefully the young guys took note. We met with all of them at the beginning of the year, and a lot of them said they wanted to change the culture. Judging by the outpouring of support from the community tonight, I think they’ve definitely took that step. It’s up to the returning players to keep building on that. That isn’t done in November on day one of basketball season. If you want to be successful, you have to put the work in during the off-season, and you have to get your buddies to join you. That’s how a winning culture is built. That’s how success is sustained. And you know what, next year we’ll have alumni that want to be involved in the program. That’s a sign of success. We’ll have these seniors wanting to come back next year wanting to help out. That’s all we could ask for.”

The final score of the game on Wednesday didn’t reflect the effort and execution the Buccaneers put forth throughout the contest. From start to finish the Buccs played hard and ran the offense as expected, which led to many open looks at the basket. Unfortunately the majority of the shots just wouldn’t fall on a consistent basis.

“The game just didn’t go our way tonight,” Carey mentioned. “We were getting some of our shots and just couldn’t hit them.”

Some of the credit can be granted to the aggressive defense applied by Jackson Center, even though the Buccaneers were still able to get off many ideal shot opportunities.

“Credit to Jackson Center,” Carey said. “They made everything tough for us.”

It was apparent early on that Covington was capable of advancing to the next round of the tournament as the Buccaneers were tied with Jackson Center at 11-11 even though some early open looks bounced off the rim. Still, the Buccs hit some big shots on two treys by Bryson Hite and Britton Miller, a pair of two-point buckets by Miller and Brogen Angle and a free throw by Angle.

Also, the Buccaneer defense set the tone as it prevented Jackson Center from jumping out to an early lead.

Covington continued executing at both ends of the floor throughout the rest of the game, but finding the bottom of the net was a huge struggle as the Buccs only managed to score 14 points over the final three periods. It wasn’t due to poor execution or bad decision making. It was just one of those unfortunate nights where the ball consistently rattled in and out of the rim.

Another huge difference in the game was Jackson Center getting to the free throw line much more than Covington. The Tigers made 11 of 14 free throws, while the Buccs only went to the free throw line twice and made 3 of 4 attempts.

Covington ends its season with a 9-15 record on a campaign where the Buccaneers improved dramatically from start to finish.

Hopefully this leads to future success.

Britton Miller shoots on a fade away jumper against Jackson Center on Wednesday. ©Ben Robinson/Color Green Photo

Covington – 11 – 13 – 21 – 25
Jackson Center – 11 – 20 – 35 – 47

Britton Miller – 11
Bryson Hite – 7
Brogen Angle – 3
Gunner Kimmel – 2
Connor Humphrey – 2

L. Heitkamp – 15
R. Platfoot – 15
L. Hartle – 7
C. Hartle – 5
P. Serr – 3
J. Davis – 2

Covington: Bryson Hite (1), Britton Miller (1)
Jackson Center: L. Heitkamp (1), C. Hartle (1), P. Serr (1), R. Platfoot (1)

Gunner Kimmel goes up for a shot for the Buccs. ©Ben Robinson/Color Green Photo