New Covenant started off strong; their sophomore star, Casey Askins (11 points) sunk four shots, scoring eight in the first three minutes of the first quarter while the Lady Warrior defense all but shut down Central’s scorers.
“We’re very inconsistent right now,” said Central coach Callie Newton. “We just were not ready to go, we didn’t come ready to play, but it got better.”
The Lady Bulldogs were on their heels. Central's offense turned the ball over again and again and their defense was unable to compete with New Covenant—that is, until the last minute of the first half, when junior Savannah Rush (14 points) helped to put up a quick five points.
From that point on, the Lady Bulldogs were on fire. They overtook New Covenant’s early lead in the second quarter, putting up 18 points to the Lady Warriors' 3.
Central’s Hannah Steinmetz (5 points) put up an excellent defense, weathering charges from the New Covenant offense and helping to keep the Warriors off their game.
“Steinmetz is our senior; she kind of plays all positions for us,” said Newton.
In the third quarter, Askins showed up again on the scoreboard and the Lady Warriors managed to sink a few shots, but Central showed no signs of slowing down. Rush put up a couple more layups, and Steinmetz landed the game’s only 3-pointer.
At the start of the fourth quarter, New Covenant needed to make an 18-point comeback to win the game—one point less than they had scored in the whole game that far—but, even as things looked dim, they wore on and kept fighting.
With a comfortable lead, Central was able to slow down the pace of the game, score a few and focus on defense. With an insurmountable lead, they took the win 45-24.
Central beat Mansfield, 44-12, in its first game of the tournament. The Lady Bulldogs will play the winner of Group B - Greenwood, Sparta or Norwood - for the tournament title at 4 p.m. on Dec. 8.
New Covenant plays Mansfield on Thursday, with the winner going to Saturday's third-place game at 2:30.
New Covenant Academy 10-3-6-5—24
Central—Savannah Rush 14, Leann Cody 6, Sarah Williams 6, Jaslyn Williams 6, Emmilyn Murphy 6, Hannah Steinmetz 5, Malyshia Hogan 2
New Covenant Academy—Casey Askins 11, Karlee Renkoski 4, Holly Golden 4, Bailey Gardner 2, Ciana Bates 2, Emma Petree 1