Considering Jackson South Side was undefeated, ranked number one in the state and playing in front of a standing-room-only home crowd, the odds were clearly against Covington Monday night in a Class AA sectional game.
The Chargers played toe-to-toe with the Hawks most of the game, weathering several runs to stay within striking distance for three-plus quarters.
Travontae Powell, who scored eight points in the second quarter and finished with 14, scored late in the third quarter and Covington trailed by just four. But South Side answered with a 20-4 run to push the lead 20 with 3:24 left in the game and went on to a 77-57 win.
South Side (32-0) moves on to next week’s state Class AA state tournament in Murfreesboro while Covington (28-6) is forced to contemplate coming up just short of state for the third straight season.
TyJuan Smith, Covington’s third-leading scorer during the season, fouled out in the third quarter. Moments after the game ended and the South Side players began cutting down the net, Charger head coach Charles Mitchell was still fuming about the officiating.
When asked for his thoughts on the game, Mitchell said, “Look at the first half, 10 fouls to two. The question is answered. We couldn’t get near them. We hadn’t had a kid foul out all year.”
South Side threatened to take control early in the second quarter as Janais Parram, who led all scorers with 21 points, hit three 3-pointers to put South Side ahead 21-11.
Covington’s Martez Logan came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer and Covington went on a 7-0 run to get back in the game. South Side led 32-30 at the half.
South Side pushed its lead to seven midway through the third quarter before buckets by Brandon Alston (15 points), Smith and Powell kept things close. In the end, though, South Side had too much firepower.
Covington has made it to at least the region semifinals six of the last seven seasons. During Mitchell’s first year as Covington’s head coach in 2014, Covington lost at South Side in a sectional game. The Hawks went on to win the state title that year. The last two seasons the eventual state champs – Hamilton in 2018 and Wooddale last year – stopped Covington in the region semifinals.
A 78-75 loss at Wooddale, the state’s second-ranked team, last Thursday in the region title game forced Covington to travel to Jackson Monday night. Wooddale beat South Gibson 83-53 Monday night advance to state.
The ways things worked out, Covington was forced to beat one of the state’s top two ranked teams – Wooddale or South Side – to make it to Murfreesboro for the first time since 1987.
“You just have to get ready for next year,” Mitchell said. “The kids had a great season. It was just one of those things.”
In girls’ action:
Westview freshman Jada Harrison scored 33 points Saturday night in Martin in a 50-45 sectional win that left the Covington Lady Chargers a win short of a second straight trip to the Class AA state tournament.
Despite 16 points from Felia Fayne, Covington (28-6) lost to Melrose 46-42 last Wednesday in the Region 8-AA title game, which forced the Lady Chargers to go through Westview on the road to get to Murfreesboro.
Melrose beat Crockett County on Saturday in another sectional game to advance to the state tournament.