Brighton entered Tuesday’s showdown at home vs. Covington undefeated, but things did not start that well.
Covington led by as many as 10 in the first half and took a nine-point lead into halftime.
During the break Brighton head coach Stan Gatlin told his team it was not playing with poise and the speech apparently worked.
The Cardinals, thanks to five straight points from Kejuan Dyson and a bucket from DeMaryo Gatlin, started the third quarter on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 33-33.
Covington had an answer, though.
Sophomore Holden Warmath, who led all scorers with 17 points, hit two straight 3-pointers to push the lead back to eight and the Chargers went on to a 58-49 win.
Covington freshman Elijah Ford scored 11 points and made 3 of 4 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“For me, I think we’re as good as anybody in our district,” Covington coach Charles Mitchell said. “We just have to get our pieces to gel together. We have different kids contributing. You can see there are going to be stars here. Warmath is going to be a rising star and Ford is going to be a horse. With that said, I think we have a bright future and I think we have two or three stars in the making.”
Brighton (4-1) was led in scoring by Dyson, who scored 15, and Gatlin, who added eight. Junior Darrien Lewis scored eight.
“We didn’t play very well,” said Brighton head coach Stan Gatlin. “The first half we played poorly and didn’t shoot the ball well from 3-point range. We didn’t recognize where our sweet spot was, which is the mid-range and around the rim. We played undisciplined for a minute.”
Jay Dancey converted a 3-point play during the third quarter for Brighton to help the Cardinals stay in the game and finished with seven. Ken Henning, who also finished with seven, hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to make things interesting.
Tyrie Winfrey scored 16 points for Covington, including six in the third quarter.
Covington made just 12 of 26 free throws, but managed to make 5 of 9 in the fourth quarter.
“Brighton played tough,” Mitchell said. “It’s just one of those rivalry games. It wasn’t the greatest performance by both teams, but with the things going on right now it was just good to get out and play. It was good for my guys, even though we missed a boatload of free throws, just to hang on and win.”
Gatlin said most of the players on his roster are still learning.
“We made the run in the second half to tie game, after that I don’t know if we were making fatigue mistakes or lost our poise,” he said. “At halftime I told them we weren’t playing with much poise, making horrible decisions on offense and defense … We have a lot of new faces, guys who have played one year and not contributed a lot at the varsity level and guys who have never played at the varsity level.”