The Bradford Girls Basketball team earned a sectional title by beating Covington 49-38. (Dale Barger Photo)

Lady Railroaders Upset Covington Win Sectional Title

TROTWOOD – The Bradford girls basketball team stunned 20-5 and the #2 seed Covington 49-38 to win back-to-back sectional titles.  They overcame an early 8-point deficit, then sparked by a half-court buzzer beater by Rylee Canan at the half and a strong start in the 2nd half to gain control for the win.

The Lady Railroaders found themselves down 14-6 in the opening quarter, but Bradford has been resilient this year and it would show as the game went along.

“When we got down early, we didn’t panic our kids held their composure and we just chipped away we kept working hard and started making plays at both ends of the floor.   We’ve been here before, I felt like the two previous games were very competitive and we had to play our butts off to win those games,” Bradford coach Chris Besecker stated.

Bradford turned things around in the 2nd quarter as Austy Miller scored 9 points and Rylee Canan had 7, none bigger than her half court buzzer beater at the end of the half to give the Roaders a 24-23 lead at the break. 

Bradford needed a boost, and it was provided by Canan who had been in a mild shooting slump the last few games, and no one was more excited for her than her teammates and none happier than Austy Miller.  

“That shot was awesome, we had so much fun at halftime after she made that shot,” Miller said.

“The buzzer beater felt great, and my teammates gave me so much confidence at halftime, they have always been supportive,” Canan said.

Fresh off her first half heroics and a newfound confidence Canan connected on her first two triples in the 2ndhalf as the Roaders went up 30-23 before Covington answered. 

“Obviously, Rylee turned the momentum for us when she hit two threes to start the second half and it was a huge confidence booster for her with the big 3 at the end of the 1st half,” Besecker praised.

Bradford was able expand their lead in the 3rd quarter going up 37-31 heading into the final stanza.

“We knew going into the game both teams didn’t have a lot of depth and if someone got in foul trouble it could decide the game and when Austy picked up her 4th foul we needed to run clock in the 4th quarter and we had several long possessions where we were able to finish,” Besecker commented.

The biggest possession was the start in the final frame when Bradford ran nearly two minutes off the clock before Austy splashed home a triple giving the Roaders a 9-point lead 40-31.

The Railroaders showed great patience and handled the ball well forcing Covington to foul and Bradford would go 10-14 from the free throw line to shut the door on the Buccaneers to secure the 49-38 win and 2nd straight sectional title.

It was another impressive win for Bradford who many times this year got down but never out fighting back and finding ways to win.  Something Austy believes has more to do with their comradery and special bond the girls have and share together having won the DIV State Softball Championship last year.

“This group of girls here is special not only in basketball we also play all sports together and I think that connection keeps us together where when you get down you don’t get rattled, we have that integrity as a group.  I mean, all these girls play softball and in the regional game with Mechanicsburg last year we kept our focus and found a way to win …  it’s the same with basketball we always seem to be able to keep our focus,” Miller said.

Winning is supposed to be fun and winning back-to-back sectionals make is even better.

“This has been so much fun, it’s been an unbelievable journey and we are so happy to be able to win back-to-back sectional titles,” Canan stated.  

Austy echoed that. “It’s so exciting and we are having so much fun,” 

Bradford was led by Austy Miller with 28 points and Rylee Canan had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Bradford was the #5 seed in the Trotwood Sectional and took a difficult path to reach the district by beating #4 Southeastern 46-39, #3 Catholic Central 52-47 in double overtime and #2 Covington 49-38. 

“I’m so proud of this group of girls, no matter what happens going forward they have accomplished a lot and this group has been so much fun,” Besecker concluded.

Bradford improved to 16-9 overall and the road doesn’t get any easier as they will now play defending DIV State Champion Fort Loramie in the District Title game at Troy on Saturday February 26th.  Time to be determined.

Senior Rylee Canan came up big with a 14 points, a half court buzzer beater at the half and 2 straight triples to start second half to put Bradford in control of the game. (Dale Barger Photo)
Austy Miller scored 26 hard-earned points to help defeat Covington in sectional title game. (Dale Barger Photo)
Brooklyn Crickmore played solid defense inside to slow down the Buccs and help Bradford win sectional title. (Dale Barger Photo)
Senior Abby Fike and Junior Isabella Hamilton congratulate one another after defeating Covington for a sectional title. (Dale Barger Photo)
Bradford fans line the top section of the Trotwood basketball gymnasium supporting their beloved Lady Railroaders. (Dale Barger Photo)

Dale Barger / Sports Editor

Dale Barger is a lifelong sports enthusiast and has covered high school athletics for nearly 20 years in Southwest Ohio and now becomes sports editor for Darke County now. For 18 years Dale has been a sportswriter for The Daily Advocate and has been published in online sorts magazines and conference websites. Dale is also an accomplished photographer who has captured thousands of athletes in action over the years. Dale is a member of The Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association and was a 2019 recipient of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Southwest District Media Service Award. Dale lives on a 72-acre farm outside of New Madison, Ohio and is married to Rita Ann (Fourman) Barger and together they have two sons and three grandkids. If you don’t see Dale at a sporting event you might catch him following his other passion – photographing nature and wildlife. Contact Darke County Now Editor Media Sports Editor Dale Barger at dbarger@darkecountynow.com.

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