Story Matters

Story Matters

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

How will the NC girls hoops team be different this year?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Newport Central Catholic senior Michaela Ware (11) scores the game-winning lay-up against Notre Dame in the 9th Region title game last year. Ware is one of two returning starters for the Thoroughbreds.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

NEWPORT – There is no doubt about the void left in the paint for the defending 9th Region champions.

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds girls basketball team will not have the luxury of dumping the ball down low to the dynamic, game-changing Nikki Kiernan this fall. She took her talents to nearby Thomas More College after averaging 16.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.

On top of that, NewCath also graduated stellar defender Stephanie Lewis and Chelsea Shack. The Thoroughbreds will also not have post Alexus Mayes after she averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds a contest. Mayes transferred to Covington Holmes.

But the Thoroughbreds do have a lot of pride and tradition so there is still plenty of hope for more great things on the Hill this winter. That starts with the two returning starters in point guard Michaela Ware at point guard and junior wing Ansley Davenport.

“We still have confidence I think,” said George Stoll, third-year NewCath Head Coach. “A lot of the girls here are used to winning. That’s a good thing. We have a lot of competitive girls on the team that want to win. That means a lot. It will show.”

NewCath finished 29-5 last year. The Thoroughbreds won the 36th District championship and region crowns after losing to Danville in the All “A” State semifinals. NewCath fell 54-52 to eventual state champion Louisville Butler in the first round of the state tournament.

Ware had some late heroics to lift NewCath to the state tournament. That included a last-second lay-up in the 9th Region title game to beat Notre Dame, 48-46 in overtime. Ware averaged 7.4 points per game.

“Everyone knows they need to step up,” Ware said. “We’ve been pushing each other in practice trying to get our shots down. We know that whenever a shot is open, we have to take it because we can’t depend on Nikki to do it this year. We’ve been taking it to the hole more and trying to be more aggressive.”

The Thoroughbreds have been known for their on-ball pressure defense. They know that needs to be picked up to have more successful seasons.

NewCath also needs to rebound well and start the transition game shortly thereafter. The Thoroughbreds grabbed 983 rebounds last year.

“We drilling that a bit and talking about it,” Zimmerman said. “I’m worried about that to an extent. But the good thing is that we have a lot of physically tough girls on our team. We hope that mental and physical toughness can make up for that size and we can just go after it.”

Senior Loren Zimmerman returns after playing quality minutes off the bench last year. She will be guarding opposing posts.

Three forwards return from last year. They are seniors Sarah Neace, Hannah Daunt and sophomore Meg Martin. Neace led the Thoroughbreds making 37-of-107 three-point shots for 34.6 percent last year.

“We have to make sure they don’t lob,” Zimmerman said. “Our help side defense has to be on key every game. The people we have are very small. We’re guard-oriented. Losing (Mayes and Kiernan) hurts, but I like the challenge.”

A pair of sophomore guards could also help out NewCath. They are Taylor Tolle and Olivia Schalk.

NewCath opens the season Dec. 3. The Thoroughbreds battle Cooper at 7:30 p.m. on The Hill.

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