GREENCASTLE — After downing Cascade and then Monrovia, the Covenant Christian boys’ basketball team faced a familiar foe in the sectional final at South Putnam on Saturday night.
Two-time defending sectional champ Speedway has bounced Covenant out of the post-season in each of the last two seasons and did so a third time with a 54-33 victory.
Covenant was without leading scorer Trevor Johnson, who was out after injuring his ankle in the sectional semi-final against Monrovia on Friday and the Warriors missed his production, despite being down by only five points at the half.
Turnovers doomed Covenant down the stretch as Speedway increased its lead and pulled away for the victory.
In the sectional semi-final against Monrovia, Johnson’s injury hampered Covenant’s offensive output, but the Warriors clamped down on the Monrovia defensively and rolled to a 51-40 victory.
While both teams were sluggish offensively to start the contest, it was Covenant that had to make the bigger adjustment when Johnson badly rolled an ankle trying to deny Monrovia’s Luke Seber a rebound basket just 4:30 into the game.
Johnson’s injury forced Covenant coach Scott Flatt to alter his emphasis to winning the game defensively, and the Warriors took the their orders to heart by holding Monrovia to 26.8 percent shooting, hitting a mere 11 of 41 shots.
“We wanted to pressure them and get good pressure to create some turnovers,” Flatt said. “We actually struggled to force turnovers in the first half. There was a lot of adversity with the injury and foul troubles, but I liked how we responded.”
Still, the Warriors also had to replace some of Johnson’s points, and trio of Christopher Seifert, Anthony DeMyers, and Jacob Marsh filled the gap with a combined 16 points in increased minutes off the bench.
Marsh, who scored all eight of his points in the second quarter, gave a solid boost of energy to the Warriors and Covenant was able to gain a double figure lead at halftime, 22-12.