Blues Overcome Covington

PM SOPHOMORE forward Spencer Hamilton takes the ball toward the basket while a Covington player guards him. Hamilton scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

PM SOPHOMORE forward Spencer Hamilton takes the ball toward the basket while a Covington player guards him. Hamilton scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

FIGHTING BLUE junior guard Will Dunlap drives toward the basket as Covington’s Samuel Akers defends him. Dunlap led all players with 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

FIGHTING BLUE junior guard Will Dunlap drives toward the basket as Covington’s Samuel Akers defends him. Dunlap led all players with 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

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PM JUNIOR guard Justin Wade passes the ball as a Covington player approaches. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

PM Boys Basketball Team Improves To 9-0 In District

The Parry McCluer High School boys basketball team escaped Pioneer District rival Covington with a 48-44 home win last Wednesday in Buena Vista.

The game was tightly contested from the opening tip, and neither team led by more than six points.

PM (14-4 overall, 9-0 district) got off to a slow start and fell behind early. Javier Yancey, who led Covington (8-11, 6-4) with 15 points, buried two 3-pointers in the first period to pace the Cougars. Samuel Akers’ three at the buzzer gave Covington an 18-12 lead after one quarter.

“They were knocking down shots early,” PM head coach Mike Cartolaro said. “It took us a while to find our groove offensively.”

Will Dunlap had an excellent night for PM and helped the Blues get back in the game. He led all scorers with 22 points and chipped in 10 rebounds.

“He is definitely our go-to guy,” Cartolaro said. “He’s really worked on his post moves and has developed his game nicely.”

The PM defense stepped up in the second period and limited the Cougars to only five points. John Snider, who finished the game with 12 points, made a free throw just before intermission that tied the game up at 23.

“We felt like we took their best shot,” Cartolaro said. “They were playing one of their better games and as the first-place team, we’re going to get that.”

The third period was a back-and-forth affair that featured three lead changes. Snider and Dunlap combined for 10 points in the period, but Jabari Williams, who finished the game with 11 points, kept Covington close.

“Williams was a handful for the defense all night, but I thought we did a decent job of limiting his second chance points,” Cartolaro said.

PM came out strong to start the fourth. Spencer Hamilton, who finished the game with eight points and seven rebounds, made a putback layup that extended the PM lead to 37-32 early in the period.

Snider’s two free throws at the six-minute mark gave the Blues their largest lead of the game at 41-35, but Covington mounted a furious comeback.

Yancey cut the lead to three with a contested floater, then Jacob Roldan intercepted a pass and laid it in to cut the lead to one. On the next PM possession, Covington forced another turnover and Skyler Barnett scored to give the Cougars a 44-43 lead.

PM responded quickly though. Dunlap scored four consecutive points and the Blues took a 47-44 lead.

“Those two runouts were costly, but I was proud of the way we responded,” Cartolaro said.

Under the one-minute mark, Dunlap missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Covington had a chance to tie the game. Yancey had a good look at a three, but the shot rimmed out and PM held on.

“We still have some things we need to work on,” Cartolaro said. “But we did a good job of handling the pressure and responding to adversity.”

With the win, the Blues completed a sweep of the regular-season series with Covington. When the teams met on Jan. 16 at Covington, PM won 59-41.

The Blues were scheduled to play at Eastern Montgomery last Friday, but that contest was rescheduled for this Friday because Buena Vista schools were closed due to a preponderance of flu and other illnesses that have led to a high rate of absences. Junior varsity action is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

PM was slated to visit Highland County on Monday before playing host to Bath County yesterday.

The Pioneer District tournament is scheduled to start on Monday. For the district tournament schedule and updates, visit www.thenews-gazette.com.

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