SHERIDAN - Taken at face value, Sheridan's 74-67 home loss to Covenant Christian on Tuesday night is exactly what it is.

Head coach Chris Schrank and those familiar with the team, however, would beg to differ.

"We're playing better than we have all year, and they're working hard. I think they're bought in," Schrank remarked on his team's effort. "If we're not close, then I don't know what we are."

Despite dropping their third consecutive game, the Class 2A Blackhawks were a little bit of this, that and everything in between, facing a 17-point deficit at one point and drawing within three points with the game in the balance.

Sheridan had three players reach double figures, led by Brock Kitchel's 19 on 8 of 13 shooting. Jake Chesney finished with 17 points behind an 8-for-11 performance and his brother Garrett Chesney followed with 12 points.

"We're right there," Schrank reiterated. "We had the same thing on Saturday against Tri-Central. We had a chance at the end. I keep telling these guys, that's what you want. You just want a chance."

Falling to Hoosier Heartland Conference foe Tri-Central 57-56 at home this past weekend, the Blackhawks kept the margin close early against Covenant Christian (12-8).

Behind a transition layup by Kitchel and a jumper from Jake Chesney, Sheridan led 10-9.

After that the visiting 2A Warriors went on a 13-3 run and in the second quarter led 38-21.

Covenant Christian shot 55 percent from 3-point range with 11 of 20 attempts sinking through the net. Seven of the Warriors' treys dropped in the first half with four coming in consecutive fashion from Ethan Smith (6-for-7) and Jacob Marsh (3-for-7).

Smith scored a game-high 25 points, going 7 of 8 from the field. Marsh's only points came via the 3-ball and Max Leary added 13 points while muscling inside the post. Kierson Watts slashed to a 12 points and five rebounds.

"It's somebody every night it seems. Somebody is lights out for the other team every night," Schrank said. "(Smith) is averaging four points a game, and he ends with 25. That's amazing."

The Blackhawks weren't impressed.

Down 44-27 with less than 30 seconds left in the first half, Sheridan went on a 7-0 run as Kitchel and the Chesneys combined to slice the deficit to 10 points.

"That was huge. It gave us a little bit of a lift coming back into the locker room and provided us a bit of a spark," Schrank said.

The Blackhawks' offense was red hot in the third, going on another 7-0 run after opening the quarter with a 7-2 momentum swing.

Sheridan didn't commit a single turnover in the frame and their defense forced seven.

"Our guards started pressuring the ball a little bit better, and we really had to work to get around (Max Leary) in the first half. He was tough inside," Schrank said. "Chris Roberts did a better job in the second half. He toughened up a little bit and made it a little bit more difficult for (Leary) to catch and pushed him off the block a little bit."

A Roberts' shot with 1:59 remaining in the third narrowed the gap 52-48. In the fourth, a Kitchel runner with 6:08 left in the game made it 58-55.

"First half of the year, I don't know if would have been able to come back from that," Schrank said. "I don't think we would have had the mental strength to dig in and come back, which is big for us."

Kitchel hit a 3-pointer with 2:42 left to pull Sheridan within striking distance at 66-62, but the Blackhawks just couldn't find a way over the top - or past Smith.

Hitting his final trey with 1:58 on the clock, Smith went 5 of 7 from the free-throw line to seal the win for the Warriors.

Covenant Christian shot 58 percent from the field and the Blackhawks matched them, which is a sign of things to come, said Schrank.

"I think our record is very deceiving," the coach noted. "We're playing so much better than 5-14. We're going to go into that sectional and teams are going to know they're in for a dog fight if they draw us."

Before they venture into the Sectional 39 field, the Blackhawks travel to 3A Western Boone on Thursday and finish the regular season with two home games against Class A Bethesda Christian on Feb. 24 and 2A Frankton on Feb. 27. Tipoff for Thursday is 7:30 p.m.