|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds basketball team signals three after winning the All "A" State basketball tournament Sunday for the third straight year. NewCath has four titles in school history.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
FRANKFORT – After receiving a scare Saturday, they put the petal to the medal and made history.
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds became the first boys team in All “A” Tournament history to win three straight state championships Sunday. The Thoroughbreds displayed why they had more experience, size and quickness than the Monroe County Falcons in a 78-36 victory at the Frankfort Convention Center.
“It was one of our goals,” said Ron Dawn, NewCath Head Coach. “I didn’t think it was going to be like this. I anticipated it being tough, but we played about as well as we can play.”
NewCath (20-3) hit the 20-win plateau for the fifth straight year as a result. The Thoroughbreds have four All “A” State championships, which is second behind University Heights’ eight crowns. NewCath also won the tournament in 2000.
The Thoroughbreds also have 13 appearances in tournament history good for third-most in tournament history only behind University Heights (20) and Somerset (15) and an overall record of 27-9 in the tournament good for the second-most wins in tournament history behind University Heights’ 47-12 mark.
On the other hand, this marked just the second appearance in the tournament for Monroe County (22-3). The Falcons also appeared in the tournament in 2003 losing to eventual runner-up Rose Hill Christian Academy out of Ashland and former Southern Cal Trojan O.J. Mayo, 69-64 in the quarterfinals.
NewCath’s domination again started with their three returning starters. Junior post Ben Weyer dominated with 26 points and seven rebounds to go with two steals and two blocked shots. He also made 2-of-3 three-point tries and 6-of-7 free-throw attempts to go with two dunks.
Weyer took over in the second quarter scoring 13 points after fellow post Drew McDonald picked up his second foul with 53.8 seconds left in the first quarter and did not play the entire second quarter. McDonald still finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Weyer also contained Monroe County forward Dillon Geralds. He finished with 12 points and Skyler Geralds had 13 to lead the Falcons.
“(Dillon Geralds) can shoot and drive. I knew he was going to try to do both,” Weyer said. “He did hit some shots, but I feel like I contested. He’s going to hit those shots so there’s not much I can do. But if you can limit that, I like our chances.”
NewCath point guard and Tournament Most Valuable Player Zack Pangallo had a magnificent game scoring and distributing the ball. He scored 12 points and dished off 12 assists to go with two steals. NewCath had 21 assists to five for Monroe County.
Pangallo also won the tournament’s MVP honors last year. Fellow guard Grant Moeves also made the all-tournament team with Weyer and McDonald. Moeves had five assists in the win.
The Thoroughbreds dominated the boards, 40-17 including 32-10 on the defensive side. After Weyer, McDonald and Moeves, Pangallo and Brian Anderson nabbed three rebounds each.
The four had some help in the winning effort. NewCath junior John Ludwig made a triple and three free throws drawing a foul on a three-point shot in the second quarter that helped the Thoroughbreds pull away on his way to nine points.
“When Drew goes out of the game, it’s really hard to get (the ball) down low so it opens things up outside,” Ludwig said. “I stepped up and hit a couple big shots. If you think too much about it, it’s not going to go in.”
NewCath made 29-of-46 shots for an amazing 63 percent, including 9-of-21 from outside for 43 percent. The Thoroughbreds also made 11-of-13 free throws for 85 percent. Weyer made 9-of-12 shots and McDonald hit 8-of-9. McDonald also made 2-of-3 from outside.
Monroe County made just 13-of-48 shots for 27 percent, including 2-of-21 from outside for 10 percent. The Falcons made 8-of-14 free-throw tries for 57 percent.
The Thoroughbreds scored the game’s first five points and never looked back. Pangallo made a triple and Weyer scored from the right post in transition prompting a quick Monroe County timeout just a minute into the game.
The Thoroughbreds led 18-12 after one quarter. They used an 8-0 run in the second to go up 26-14 with 4:41 left I the half. Weyer scored five straight during that run.
Weyer scored five straight later in the period to give NewCath a 37-20 advantage. He made a three-pointer and two free throws during that run.
NewCath led 39-23 at halftime then put the game away in the third quarter with McDonald back in the lineup. The Thoroughbreds scored 14 of the half’s first 17 points including another Weyer dunk to go up 53-26 with 2:56 left in the quarter.
NewCath led 59-32 entering the fourth quarter and enforced the running clock with 6:23 left in the game. McDonald’s second three-pointer gave the Thoroughbreds a 67-32 advantage at that point and the reserves played the rest of the game. The Falcons did not score a field goal in the fourth quarter.
NewCath travels to St. Henry on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.