After falling to Hickory Grove, 56-45, on Feb. 12, it appears as though the 2012-13 season has come to an unceremonious end for the Covenant Day boys basketball team’s nine seniors and first-year coach Wade Tapp.
Tapp said since the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association has cut its postseason field from 16 teams to 12, the Lions will more than likely be on the outside looking in. But evidenced by their 8-5 record late in the season, Covenant Day (11-17, 6-8 Metrolina Athletic Conference) was beginning to hit its stride behind the uncanny scoring ability of senior wing David Airing.
Airing has been contributing to the Lions’ success since he first stepped on the court his freshman season. And the 6-foot-5 forward had his best season, averaging 23.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
But as adept as Airing was at finding ways to put the ball in the basket, he didn’t need to score to be effective. Tapp mentioned a Jan. 15 win over Hickory Grove, when Airing scored just seven points because the defense focused so much of its attention on him. Instead of forcing shots, Airing deferred to his teammates, who consistently made plays in a victory that helped them finish three games above .500 in their final 13 games.
“The thing that’s defined David from Day 1 is his hard work and dedication,” Tapp said. “He’s been committed to putting work in at the weight room, and he’s been committed to getting up (practice) shots in the offseason as well as during the season.
“Whenever you have a kid that has that kind of work ethic and has solid fundamentals like he does, it’s just great to see. I think he’ll have great success on the next level.”
Tapp added that Airing is being looked at by a number of Division II and III schools in addition to drawing interest from several Ivy League institutions earlier this season.
But since Airing is such a good student (3.5 GPA) and isn’t bashful about telling recruiters that he’s just as concerned with academics as he is basketball success, Tapp is confident he’ll choose the right college and perform well on and off the court.
“Wherever he decides to go, whether it’s a place he can get immediate playing time or not, his effort, character and intensity will contribute a lot to their program,” Tapp
As Airing probably has donned the Lions’ uniform for the last time, he’ll go down in Lions’ lore as one of the school’s all-time best players, something Tapp said is deserving for a player of Airing’s stature.
“He’s definitely a team player,” Tapp said. “If that means scoring the ball, he can do that, but he can do so much more, too. He’s a complete player and a really good kid.”
Aside from Airing, the Lions will lose eight other seniors, including Ben Hawks (9.4 points, 3.7 assists), Ethan VanDeVelde (5.6 points), Drew Pierce (5.3 points, five rebounds) and Joel VanDusen (3.7 points, 5.7 rebounds). But Tapp said all isn’t lost on the Lions program.
Junior Justus Melton, who led the team in offensive rebounds, steals and blocks and averaged 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds, will headline the Lions’ returnees. Tapp said he’s a smooth and athletic player who seems to almost effortlessly contribute on the court. Joining Melton is sophomore guard Jack Shanahan, who Tapp said has already begun training for next season and is a more-than-capable player.
Although Covenant Day will look markedly different after losing one of the best players in school history, Tapp is hoping Melton and Shanahan can build off this team’s late success and have the Lions in the hunt next