|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Newport Central Catholic junior Ben Weyer (44) slams one home in Friday's win over Holmes. Weyer had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds in the 58-52 Thoroughbred victory.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAMFort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – It is all about preparing to make a huge run at the elusive prize for the rest of the regular season.
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbred boys basketball team has its eyes on Rupp Arena after carrying the title of region favorites the previous few years, but not being able to get the job done. NewCath (25-3 overall) faced one of its fellow 9th Region contenders Friday in the Covington Holmes Bulldogs (20-7) at Northern Kentucky University’s Bank of Kentucky Arena.
The Thoroughbreds outlasted the Bulldogs, 58-52 in an ugly win. Holmes beat NewCath in the region quarterfinals two years ago on its way to the region title.
NewCath lost in the region semifinals to eventual state champion Covington Catholic on the same floor last year. The Thoroughbreds played for the region title three and four years ago losing to Dixie Heights then Boone County.
The Throughbreds won behind balanced scoring and the size advantage in the paint. Ben Weyer had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Zack Pangallo followed with 16 points with Drew McDonald and Grant Moeves scoring nine each.
“We felt we had an advantage there,” said Ron Dawn, NewCath Head Coach. “They did a good job doubling down on Drew, which we knew they were going to do. But finally in the second half, we had a good stretch where we got it (inside) consistently and got some good shots.”
NewCath won the rebounding battle, 30-18. McDonald also had nine rebounds.
McDonald and Weyer also played a big role in the paint defensively blocking two shots each. The Holmes guards like to use their quickness to attack the paint.
“It wasn’t necessarily us blocking shot, it was more us altering shots,” McDonald said. “They like to drive before they shoot. They come into our spot. If we go straight up and they go into us, it’s not a foul so we went straight up and made it tougher on them.”
A big reason Holmes stayed in the game is turnovers. The Bulldogs had 13 steals off 17 Thoroughbred turnovers. NewCath had two steals off eight Holmes turnovers.
“We didn’t do a good job taking care of the ball,” Dawn said. “A lot of them weren’t even forced turnovers. We were throwing 50-foot passes in transition. They doubled down on us and we weren’t getting the ball out before the trap came. We had not seen anyone like that in a while. But we’ll get better with it.”
The Bulldogs also had balanced scoring. Standout senior James Bolden had 20 points with Marcus Mullins and Markel McClendon tallying 10 each. McClendon also had four steals. NewCath went to a 2-3 zone to slow down the Bulldogs.
“We closed the gap more and got on their shooters, especially Bolden,” Pangallo said. “It kept them from driving, especially with Ben and Drew down low.”
NewCath took 14 fewer shots but made the most of them. The Thoroughbreds hit 23-of-39 shots for 59 percent, including 4-of-10 from outside for 40 percent, and 8-of-11 free throws for 73 percent.
Holmes made 23-of-53 shots for 44 percent, including 1-of-10 three-point tries for 10 percent. The Bulldogs also made 5-of-6 free throws for 83 percent.
NewCath did a better job distributing the basketball with 12 assists to three for Holmes. Pangallo led everyone with seven assists.
NewCath went on an 8-0 run in the first quarter to go up 12-4 with 5:10 left. Weyer’s second dunk put NewCath up 21-10. But Holmes finished with a 6-0 run to finish the quarter down 21-16.
Holmes tied the game at 21 before Weyer made a jumper and three to put the Thoroughbreds up for good at 26-21 with 5:50 left in the half. NewCath led 29-27 at halftime.
NewCath extended the lead to 33-27 to start the second half. Weyer hit a jumper and Moves made two free throws.
Holmes cut the lead to one with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. Weyer and McDonald scored to put NewCath up 40-35.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 42-41 with 6:38 left in the game. But the Thoroughbreds responded with an 8-0 run to go up 50-41 with 4:28 left in the game. Moves started with a three-pointer from the left wing and Pangallo finished it with a jumper. NewCath made all four free throws in the final 1:03 to ice the game.
NewCath plays host to Louisville Trinity (20-5) on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.