By Ben Robinson
NEW MADISON — The Covington boys basketball team entered Friday’s game at Tri-Village with a 7-13 record with eight of those losses coming by five points or less.
Needless to say, Covington has been snakebitten all season long in close games.
Which has to be extremely frustrating for first-year coach Karl Ratermann because he has had his team in position to be at least a 15-win basketball team only to see victory slip away one game after another due to preventable mistakes on the floor.
But Friday the Buccaneers were able to get over the hump, edging Tri-Village by a single point, 53-52, in what is a very tough place to play – on the Patriots’ home floor.
Things looked bleak early on as Tri-Village jumped out to a 10-2 lead midway through the opening frame.
Covington was able to battle back by outscoring the Patriots 9-2 over the remainder of the stanza to cut the deficit to 12-11 after one.
The Buccaneers continued to roll through the second, outscoring Tri-Village 12-7 in the period on buckets by Spencer Brumbaugh, Jake Hamilton, Wes Gooding, Zach Kuntz and a pair of layups by Kleyton Maschino.
Spencer Brumbaugh hit a trey to start the third to give Covington some momentum and the Buccaneers continued their offensive onslaught to build a nine-point lead with just under 3:00 left in the frame.
Also, Covington senior Zach Kuntz came up big for the Buccs with 12 of his team-high 20 points coming in the third.
But turnovers on three straight possessions led to buckets for Tri-Village and by the end of the quarter the Patriots had cut the margin to one, 43-42.
Which made for a back-and-forth final 8:00 of basketball.
And it wasn’t pretty for either team as both squads struggled taking care of the basketball in clutch situations.
Still, Tri-Village was able to make enough plays to claim a 52-50 lead with under one minute to go.
After a Buccaneer timeout, senior Spencer Brumbaugh collected a perfectly timed pass from Kuntz on a backdoor cut to the basket. Brumbaugh converted on the uncontested layup to tie the score with under 30 seconds left.
Tri-Village then called a timeout to set up a potential game-winning play, but Covington got the stop it need to get the ball back and shortly thereafter Kadin Presser was fouled on a shot inside the paint with six seconds left.
Presser converted on one of two free throws and Tri-Village pulled down the rebound on the second attempt to give itself one final shot.
After quickly moving the ball up the floor, the Patriots put up a contested shot that bounced off the side of the rim as the buzzer sounded – a sequence resulting into a bench-clearing celebration by the Buccaneers.
At the end of the day, it was a huge win for Covington (8-13) in regards to confidence heading into the final game of the regular season next Friday against rival Newton.