Covenant sails past Eastern Mennonite

By Allen Kha / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor

It took eight minutes and change for Covenant’s shots to start falling in its first-round VIC playoff game against Eastern Mennonite.

When they did, they poured.

After the visiting Flames scored seconds into the second quarter to take a 13-12 lead, the Eagles went on a 15-0 run during the next four minutes en route to a 73-59 victory.

At the 6:24-mark in the second quarter, Covenant point guard Boo Agee drained a three-pointer from just left of the top of the key to help his team reclaim the lead. Shortly thereafter, Agee drained another three-pointer from the same spot to assert the Eagles’ forward momentum.

“It was a bit of a struggle in the beginning [for both teams], but we started to hit shots after we adjusted to the triangle-and-two offense [Eastern Mennonite employed from the start of the game to better defend against Covenant’s size advantage],” Agee said.

“You know, once we get into a groove, we can really shoot it, and we did tonight. It was a pretty good offensive performance, which made up for times we weren’t as good on defense.”

The Eagles took advantage of four additional three-pointers – a pair from Jeremiah Morris and a pair from LJ Morris – to spread the floor in the quarter, making an already methodical and patient motion offense even more effective.

Eastern Mennonite, meanwhile, struggled to score even layups during Covenant’s defining run. The Flames finally scored on a tip-in from big-man Yona Daniel with 2:38 left in the second quarter, but were in too deep to overcome a 40-22 halftime deficit against a streaking Eagles squad.

Although Eastern Mennonite overcame its cold streak in the second half, the team could not put together a sustained run to get back into the game – the Flames essentially traded baskets with Covenant for the remainder of the game, giving the hosting Eagles a victory in the first-round of the VIC Division II tournament.

Covenant coach Travis Johnson was pleased with his team’s victory, although Johnson noted that his team needs to improve on its fundamentals – typified by poor finishing on uncontested layups throughout the game – before its away date against top-seeded North Cross on Thursday.

“The defensive performance wasn’t where it needed to be tonight… so even though we were able to put up 70-some points, there is still a lot of room for improvement,” Johnson said. “We’re playing the number one team in the conference [North Cross] next, so we just have to focus Wednesday on improving our defense to match our offensive production, which was good. We’ll be prepared and ready Thursday.”

Eastern Mennonite’s Daniel led all scorers with 21 points. Agee led Covenant with 19 points.

The Eagles travel to North Cross Thursday for the tournament semifinals. Tip off is set for 5:45 p.m.