By Corey Elliott
— Covenant Christian’s boys’ basketball team looked as if they were going to hang with Brebeuf through all four quarters last Tuesday after only trailing by one at the end of the first. But looks can be deceiving and the Braves went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter that ultimately buried the Warriors and resulted in a 66-46 loss for Covenant Christian.
Led by junior P.J. Thompson — a nationally recruited prospect in the class of 2014 — and senior Alik Ferguson’s 36 combined points, along with a pesky defensive effort, Brebeuf was too much for the Warriors. Covenant Christian shot just 43 percent, making 17 of 39 from the field, much to the credit of the Braves’ pressure that made it tough for the Warriors to get the open looks they wanted on offense.
“We tried to identify where Thompson was at all times and contest, and I thought in the second quarter we let him get away from us,” Covenant Christian coach Scott Flatt said. “He (Thompson) got 21 but I thought the guy that really hurt us was Ferguson. I told my guys No. 5 is the X-Factor. He hustles, he has energy and he gets to balls he has no business getting to.”
It wasn’t just Thompson that got away from the Warriors.
Covenant Christian had eight of its 12 turnovers in the second quarter as the game slowly slipped away. Even more detrimental was the Warriors’ inability to score on open looks and seemingly uncontested drives to the basket.
“I told the guys at half time we’ve got to finish. We missed too many layups,” Flatt said. “I can think of five or six times that if we had finished, the score would have been different and it would have been a different ballgame.”
The 28-18 halftime score was manageable for Covenant Christian at the start of the third quarter but the Braves adjusted to the Warriors’ change in their game plan and finally pulled away for good. The fourth quarter only became harder for Covenant Christian as the Warriors made just three of their 12 field goal attempts while the struggle to contain Thompson continued.
“We made the adjustment to go to a 1-3-1 trap to try and give them a different look and they handled it really well,” Flatt said. “In the fourth quarter, we tried to adjust how we were screening and cutting and defensively. We struggled with the on-the-ball pressure and when P.J. is out there, he’s going to go right by you. Once they got control of the game, it was going to be tough and at the end of the third quarter, they did that.”
With such a young team, a large part of Flatt’s game plan is consistency. Trying to build a contender is no easy task and although there is nothing satisfactory about a 20-point loss, optimism that this group can compete come sectional time is at an all-time high.
“This is a young, inexperienced team, so we’re just trying to get to our best basketball come sectional time,” Flatt said. “We’re a team that has the potential to really be strong at the end of the season, so we have to continue to build that monster.”