BROOKVILLE — Brody Rike, in his first year as Twin Valley South’s girls’ basketball coach, was optimistic about his team and the future of the program despite dropping a 59-35 contest in the Brookville Division IV sectional semifinal to No. 2 seed Covington on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
“The girls played hard. I couldn’t ask much more of them,” Rike said. “We got beat by that team by 50 points (80-29) at the beginning of the season and we got beat by them by 25 tonight. I was surprised and happy with my girls.”
Rike said the Buccs, at times, struggled with his team’s half court defense, which kept the Panthers in the game.
With the exception of three runs by Covington, mostly due to South turnovers, the game was evenly played.
“Turnovers is what lost the game for us and offensive rebounding which has been pretty consistent for us all season” Rike said. “We went into every ball game, 23 ball games this year, outsized.”
For the game, South committed 21 turnovers and was out-rebounded 44-27, allowing the Buccs to grab 20 offensive boards on the night.
A game-opening 10-2 run gave the Buccs a lead they would never relinquish, but South never went away.
The Panthers trimmed their deficit to 14-10 after the first quarter.
The second run for Covington came at the beginning of the second quarter.
The Buccs went on an 11-0 run to push their lead to 25-10 with 5:26 to play in the half.
But, just like the first quarter, South responded and closed out the quarter with a 9-2 run of their own to cut the lead to 27-19.
The final and most decisive run was the first three and half minutes of the third quarter.
“I knew they could do that at any point and time,” Rike said of the game-changing momentum swings. “They’re a very good basketball team. That’s one team I’m going to be pulling for throughout this tournament.”
The Buccs opened with a 12-0 run to push their lead to 39-19 with 4:21 to play, but this time the Panthers didn’t have an answer. South trailed 50-28 after three.
Junior Mylan Crews lead South with 10 points. Taylor Bowers, Emily Hutchings and Kelsie Shafer each added six and Abby Bingham chipped in with five.
South, which finished 4-19, posted more wins this season than it has in the past three. Over the past three years the Panthers had won only seven games, three the last two seasons and one the year before that.
“A winning season isn’t something that is far off for us anymore,” Rike said. “We have a lot of girls returning next year, only losing two, and we are getting a pretty strong freshman class.”
South is losing seniors Sydney Vorhis and Hutchings to graduation. Hutchings will leave South as having played in the most games in a career with 90.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH