VAUGHN COVINGTON isn't shy on the basketball court, but you could call him offensively bashful.
The 5-11 junior for Neumann-Goretti High is a pass-first, second and third point guard for the Saints.
Before last night's Class AAA semifinal against Imhotep Charter, Covington had never topped the Saints in scoring in Catholic League play or the playoffs. He also only recorded double digits three times this season after only thrice last season.
Against the Panthers, however, Covington's 21 points led the victorious Saints to a 75-67 triumph and another state title appearance.
"It's funny, really,'' Covington laughed. "Usually I'm the one finding them. Tonight, I had the hot hand and that don't happen too often.''
In fact, Covington had averaged just four points in the previous seven games.
"I was struggling the past few games,'' he said, "but I've just been in the gym, working.''
The Sicklerville, N.J., resident finished 5-for-10 from the field and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. He also went 7-for-8 from the foul line.
"Yeah, it just kind of happened," he laughed. "I was open. Coach [Carl Arrigale] told me when I was open to shoot the ball. He's always been on me about that - passing up shots. He said if I was open, shoot the ball. That's what I did.''
And all of his points were critical in a close contest at a packed Philadelphia University. With the win, the Saints will play Archbishop Carroll Friday at Hershey.
With the Saints' leading scorer, Quade Green, in early foul trouble, Covington and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree kept N-G ahead, 31-30, by intermission.
Cosby-Roundtree finished with 12 points (10 at half), 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Green finished with 19 points.
Meanwhile, Imhotep was led by Daron Russell's 27 points and seven steals.
The Saints simply made enough plays to win. And Covington, whose father, Vaughn Sr., played at Cheyney University, supplied ample offense.
"Yeah, my dad tells me everything I'm doing wrong on my shot,'' he joked. "So, every time I miss a shot I look at him and he says, 'You're doing this, you're doing that.' ''
Last night, when Covington looked to his father, the message was simple.
"He said, 'Keep shooting, keep shooting!' '' he said. "He told me he was a scoring guard, but I don't believe that.''