Canan shots spark Bradford to win over Covington in D-IV district semifinal


TROTWOOD — The Bradford girls basketball team took the toughest paths possible to return to the D-IV district championship game.

And a young Covington team had an impressive season end earlier than they had hoped.

The Railroaders, 16-9, erased an early eight-point deficit by outscoring Covington 25-15 in the second half and won 49-38 in a Trotwood D-IV district semifinal.

The Railroaders, who beat the second, third and fourth seeds to get back to district championship game, will play Fort Loramie on Saturday for a district title.

Bradford, the five seed, opened the tournament with a win over four seed Southeastern, followed by a double overtime win over three seed Catholic Central and Saturday’s win over two seed Covington.

“It is kind of amazing,” Bradford senior guard Austy Miller said. “Every game has been a tough game.”

Covington closes the season at 20-5.

“We got off to a good start,” Studebaker said about a 14-6 first quarter lead. “We had chances to expand the lead in the second quarter from the line and didn’t. We just didn’t hit shots today. I think one of the key differences today was Bradford is starting three seniors and we started a freshman and two sophomores. We are a young team.”

Besecker talked about the Railroaders tournament run.

“I think that is a credit to our team,” Besecker said. “I always think it is a credit to our conference. Adding Preble Shawnee and Dixie we had a lot of tough conference games. I thought one of the keys was that we didn’t panic early.”

Miller agreed.

“We have been in that situation before,” she said. “Against Catholic Central (in their previous tournament game), we were down 9-0.”

There is no question Rylee Canan provided the emotional turning point for Bradford.

Claudia Harrington hit a 3-pointer with just seconds to go in the half, giving Covington a 23-21 lead.

Following the inbounds, Canan fired a shot from beyond midcourt the buzer that found nothing but net and the Railroaders took a 24-23 halftime lead.

“It was exciting,” Canan said. “It was important because it gave us the lead at halftime.”

Studebaker agreed.

“We hit the 3-point shot we wanted to take the lead,” he said. “Then we don’t play defense and she (Rylee Canan) hits a three-quarter court shot.”

Canan wasn’t done.

She opened the second half with two 3-pointers and suddenly Bradford led 30-23.

“It felt good (to hit those shots),” Canan said.

Covington closed to within three on baskets by Claire Fraley and Harrington, but Bradford answered with seven straight points.

Abby Fike scored off an Isabella Hamilton dish, Miller hit a 3-pointer and Hamilton scored to make it 37-27.

It was 37-31 going to the fourth quarter and Maggie Anderson scored to make it 37-33 with just over six minutes remaining.

“I remember looking up and seeing we were down four,” Studebaker said. “You can’t start fouling that early. They make their free throws, so you just have to use ball pressure and try to get a turnover.”

But, Bradford would be patient from that point on.

“You have to milk that clock in that situation,” Besecker said. “You have to. Neither team had a lot of depth.”

After running more than a minute off the clock, Miller hit a 3-pointer to make it 40-33 and Covington would score just five points the rest of the game.

Miller continued to add to her legacy.

She passed 1,800 points for her career and now sits a 1,808 points.

Canan had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Hamilton scored five points.

Harrington and Maggie Anderson led Covington with 11 points.

Fraley had six points and seven rebounds, Gracie Anderson scored six points and Carlie Besecker pulled down five rebounds.

“We had a really good year,” Studebaker said. “We won a league title. We battled to the end today. We didn’t quit. We are only the ninth Covington girls team to win 20 games. The kids have a lot to be proud of.”

Bradford was 13 of 36 from the floor for 36 percent and 16 of 21 from the line for 76 percent.

Covington was 14 of 40 from the floor for 35 percent and seven of 11 from the line for 64 percent.

Bradford won the battle of the boards 23-20 and had seven turnovers to Covington’s 14.

Now, comes a second straight trip to the district finals.

“It is always a goal,” Miller said. “I need know if we could do it again because we didn’t have a lot of girls.”

They did it, taking the toughest path possible.

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