By Corey Elliot
INDIANAPOLIS — The Covenant Christian Warriors (2-7) kept the South Putnam Eagles (3-7) grounded last Thursday night, winning 44-31. It was a much needed win for Covenant Christian after playing the underdog role for the majority of their games thus far.
Head coach Matt Williams’ Warriors were led by lone senior Mallory Huff and promising freshman Hannah Blakley with a combined 29 points.
“We’ve played a very difficult schedule early on,” Williams said. “We’ve played all 3A and 4A teams and we’ve taken our fair share of lickings, but at the same time, (Hannah) Blakley has been a really consistent scorer and I can’t say enough about Mallory’s leadership.”
Both of which were on full display Thursday night. First, it was Huff that ignited an 8-2 run two minutes into the first quarter that forced an early Eagles time out. South Putnam came out of the timeout with two quick scores that pulled them back within two until Blakley contributed six points to a Warrior 8-0 run.
“I had some rough games with our 4A opponents,” Huff said. “I have to attack, I have to score. That was my mind set. Previously I had been fading back and not going to the basket, but today I had to attack the boards and go to the basket.”
The losses can be tough and overwhelming while trying to find your rhythm and consistency night in and night out. However, struggles early on suggest the storm has passed, hopefully bringing more nights like this one.
“It’s better to have those tough games in the beginning so you get them over with and you have those hard games out of the way and you can learn how to build,” Huff said. “It’s so frustrating, even from a senior perspective, but I looked at our rankings; we have the 62nd hardest schedule in the state and seventh in 2A and you look at that and you realized the hard games are over. We can build.”
Scoring points often and fast would make any coach happy. But for Williams it was about keeping his young team calm, confident, and consistent.
“It was about composure and playing under control and it’s always nice to hit the first couple shots,” Williams said. “With a young team, if you hit the first couple of shots, the confidence starts to build and once we hit the first few shots we just took off from there.”
After putting up 21 in the first quarter, the Warriors’ attack slowed and they only scored 22 more points the entire game adding — six in the second quarter and eight in the third and fourth quarters. But a stingy Covenant Christian defense made sure the Eagles wouldn’t take advantage of the Warriors’ scoring struggles.
“Our philosophy has been defensive minded first,” Williams said. “We want to be a team that scores with that defensive mindset by letting our defense lead to our offense.”
South Putnam pulled to within nine late in the third quarter, but couldn’t come any closer. A tough Warrior full court press resulted in four turnovers, one of which Huff capitalized on after being fouled and making the layup on a fast break that brought the Warrior fans to their feet.
“Coming into it was really hard,” Huff said. “Starting back in summer ball, I felt like a mom at times with all of these freshmen. Playing with seniors last year, I know it’s a really hard role, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love these girls and it’s taught me a lot.”