Slow start dooms Lakota East in loss to Covington Catholic

CINCINNATI — Clint Adkins knows his Lakota East boys basketball team matches up well against the opposition. That’s never really in question.

It’s recently come down to slow starts, which forces the Thunderhawks to have to scramble back.

Trey Perry turned in a game-high 25 points and Derek Jackson hit a couple late 3-pointers on his way to score 16, but it wasn’t enough for Lakota East to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit in Sunday night’s 60-59 loss to Covington Catholic in the Holiday Hardwood Classic at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.

Lakota East (7-6) has lost four in a row following a seven-game winning streak, while Covington Catholic (13-4) has won six straight.

“When we’re in a five-on-five setting, we’re good. We guard well, and we make people take tough shots,” Adkins said. “But when we give people uncontested layups, we will eventually have to work for everything. We give other teams too many uncontested points.

“In a one-possession game, that’s a huge deal. We’ve just got to get better at taking care of the ball for the entire game. When we’re successful, we turn the ball over six, seven, eight times. When we’re not very good, it’s 14, 15, 16.”

The Thunderhawks gave the ball up seven times in the first half alone, and the Colonials turned it into 13 points. Brady Hussey had 12 points and Athens McGillis had 10 in the first two quarters to help give Covington Catholic a 33-21 lead at halftime. McGillis finished with 19.

The Colonials built their largest lead at 40-25 midway through the third quarter before the Thunderhawks gradually made their way back.

“To our guys, I knew we weren’t going to quit,” Adkins said. “It’s a great group of kids. They’re very high-character kids. And no matter what, I know they’re never going to quit. They bought in to what we were saying — ‘one possession at a time. Let’s grind, let’s get back.’

“We were really, really patient, and we made some big-time plays down the stretch. It just wasn’t quite enough. It’s disappointing, because you dig yourself such a hole in the first half, that if you don’t have that, you probably win that game.”

Perry and Jackson each scored 14 second-half points and Lakota East outscored Covington Catholic 22-13 in the fourth quarter.

Perry hit 1 of 2 free throw attempts to put the Thunderhawks on top 59-58 with under a minute remaining. Then the Colonials sunk a pair of free throws to go up by a point, and Perry had a contested layup fall off the rim just before the buzzer sounded.

“We’ve come back like that. That’s big. But as a team, that’s nothing new to us,” Perry said. “There are so many times that we have done that, and we know we’re capable of doing that. It helps us going forward knowing that we can get back in these types of games.”


Lakota East hit the most competitive portion of its schedule the last four games — which also included loses to GMC foes Lakota West, Hamilton and Sycamore.

The second half of the conference slate lies ahead.

“We can compete with anybody. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Adkins said. “We show it game in and game out. We don’t schedule cupcakes. We don’t hide from anybody. There’s a lot of programs that don’t want to play the CovCaths of the world. This is what makes us battle tested.

“Once we get to February — get to the tournament — our guys will have seen everything. They won’t be scared of anything. It’s why we do it.”


Covington Catholic beat Lakota East 54-45 on Jan. 17, 2016 — the only meeting between the two schools in the last 20 seasons. Evan Kuhlman scored 15 points to pace the Thunderhawks that game, while Aiden Ruthsatz and Andy Flood had 15 apiece for the Colonials.


Lakota East gets back to Greater Miami Conference action on Friday at Princeton.

Other area results from Sunday:


BADIN 81, GAHANNA LINCOLN 42: Gracie Cosgrove scored a game-high 30 points and had four steals and three assists to lead Badin past Gahanna Lincoln 81-42 in the Classic in the City at Pickerington. She was named the Clutch HoopHer of the Game.

The Rams (9-5), who snapped a three-game losing streak, face Kings Christian (Canada) on Monday at noon in the Classic in the City at Pickerington.

LAKOTA WEST 50, TOL. NOTRE DAME 37:  Katie Fox scored a game-high 26 points, Caroline Bayliff added 10 and Lakota West moved its winning streak to five games with a 50-37 victory over Toledo Notre Dame in the Classic in the Country.

The Firebirds (10-3) led 12-2 after one quarter and never trailed the rest of the way.

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