By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Before the season started, the 9th Region favorites knew some of their biggest challenges would come from right across the Licking River in Covington.
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds boys basketball team ventured there Friday to face the undefeated 25-0 Covington Holmes Bulldogs and came through with a huge victory. NewCath defeated Holmes, 88-85 in double overtime to improve to 25-2 overall and 13-1 in region play with its 13th straight victory.
“We obviously knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” said Grant Brannen, NewCath head coach. “We go into every game fully expecting to win. They showed a lot of character. Fortunately in the second overtime, we were able to take control of things.”
The Thoroughbreds led 53-37 with 1:05 left in the third quarter. But Holmes battled back and took a 69-67 lead with 14 seconds left in regulation on a James Bolden three-pointer.
NewCath guard Zach Pangallo made a short jumper with four seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. Teammate Michael Bueter then made a three-point play to tie the game at 78 in the first overtime and send it to double overtime. Bueter hit a lay-up n drew a foul on Holmes senior forward Chris Englemon.
That marked Englemon’s fifth foul and without Englemon in the game, NewCath passed the ball inside and scored on its first four possessions of overtime. The Thoroughbreds won double overtime, 10-7 outscoring the Bulldogs, 8-1 to open the extra session.
Holmes had no answer for the NewCath height. The 6-foot-5-inch Nick Seibert scored 26 points and recorded eight rebounds with 6-8 Jake Schulte making a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. The 6-6 Drew McDonald followed with 13 and Bueter had 11.
Bolden, a sophomore, led the comeback for Holmes with 37 points. He made six of his team’s 10 three-pointers. Seibert limited Bolden to just two of his first seven shots before Bolden made 10-of-16 to end regulation.
Holmes came into the game as the last undefeated team in the state. The Bulldogs also saw Daquan Palmer score 15 and Quinton Chames add 14.
NewCath has done a good job refocusing after winning the All “A” State Tournament. The Thoroughbreds struggled at North College Hill (Ohio), but have taken care of Bishop Brossart and Holmes to move to 3-0 since coming back from Frankfort.
“My guys have shown tremendous character all year,” Brannen said. “They’re making me proud as a coach but we have unfinished business.”
NewCath finishes off the season with three more region games. The Thoroughbreds play host to Beechwood (7-16) at 3:30 p.m. today.