Scott County has been without Michael Moreno for more than a month now. His reliable 20 points and 10 rebounds a night have been replaced by slight upticks in production throughout the Cardinals’ deep roster. The wins have been harrowing at times, but with a still-unblemished record against Kentucky foes, it’s clear no in-state team was as well-equipped to handle four to six weeks without its best player (he’s still expected back near district tournament time).
One name from the Cards’ committee approach has started to stand out: Glenn Covington. The senior doesn’t lead Scott County in scoring — he’s third at 12.8 points per game. He doesn’t lead them in shooting, though his clip from three-point range — 42.1 percent — is the best among Cardinals who’ve attempted more than 20 threes this season. He’s a great free-throw shooter — 90.7 percent — but has the fourth-most tries on the team. His 3.3 rebounds also rank fourth.
His name isn’t at the top of any stat category, but there is no more confident a Cardinal among Scott County’s ranks than Covington. And his swagger is contagious.
“I try to keep it as consistent as much as I can, even when I have bad games,” Covington said. “I know I’ve got to play my defense, cause that’s my main objective. But, I mean, if my shots are going in, I’m gonna shoot.”
Lately no one has taken more warmly to the biggest moments: Covington hit the go-ahead and/or game-winning shots in Scott County’s recent nail-biters against Madison Central (73-70 on the road after trailing by eight points with 2 minutes left) and Woodford County (64-62 after exchanging leads throughout the fourth quarter).
He has led the Cardinals in scoring over their last four games — the last two wins over top-20 teams Henry Clay and Walton-Verona on back-to-back nights. He poured in 26 of his 33 points in the first half of an 88-68 decision against the Blue Devils on Friday before scoring 18 of his 20 in the first quarter of a running-clock victory, 74-46, against Walton-Verona the next day as part of the Jock Sutherland Classic at Lafayette.
Up by six with two minutes left in the first half against Henry Clay, Covington re-entered the game and on three consecutive possessions attempted — and drained — three-pointers, each of increasing distance from beyond the arc, to help Scott County swell its advantage to 15 at the break.
“Glenn just couldn’t miss. He kept backing up further and further,” Scott County Coach Billy Hicks said. “I thought, ‘Gosh, is that Tayshaun Prince out there?’”
Covington — also a standout defensive back on the gridiron — has committed to play football at Campbellsville University. Hicks has talked him up to Division I basketball coaches, though. He’s quick enough to guard any position, can shoot and “is a heck of a passer,” Hicks said.
“When Glenn comes to play — really fired up and ready to play — there’s not a better guard in the state,” Hicks said. “I’ve said that all year.”
Moreno, who has watched Scott County’s last month of games from a scooter in a boot, thinks any of his teammates could be a Mr. Basketball-type player at other schools because of their work ethic. Covington’s turn in the spotlight is lending credibility to that theory.
“The way we shut down good guards night in and night out, it’s safe to say that Glenn does his job well,” Moreno said. “Defensively, you feel the 31 or 33 points, whatever he had tonight, you feel that even when he scores five points because he plays so hard on both ends.”
Hitting big shots is always satisfying, but Covington took extra glee in his performance against Henry Clay — the Blue Devils upset Scott County during the football regular season.
“That was a fluke,” Covington said with a loud grin. “That’s all I gotta say. Y’all can have that one. It’s basketball season now.”
Henry Clay had won eight straight, including some of the same marquee victories — Lafayette, Madison Central, Trinity — that Scott County has earned. The Blue Devils’ win streak was sandwiched between losses to the Cardinals.
“We needed to make a statement,” Covington said. “We needed to show the state and everybody that they can’t stay with us. We proved that today.”
The most confident Cardinal has spoken. Chances are he’ll be speaking well into March.