|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Newport Central Catholic junior Ben Weyer scores in the 9th Region quarterfinal game against Covington Holmes.|
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds boys basketball team has not been able to figure out 35th District opponents in the 9th Region Tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center on the Northern Kentucky University campus. For the third straight year, the Thoroughbreds saw its season end against a team from that vaunted district.
Last year, eventual state champion Covington Catholic eliminated the Thoroughbreds in the region semifinals. But this season, NewCath drew Covington Holmes (22-8) in the quarterfinals and lost 58-51. The Thoroughbreds also lost to the Bulldogs in the quarterfinals two years ago after beating them in the regular season.
Whenever NewCath seemed to have things going, Holmes senior guard James Bolden made a big play. Bolden finished with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal for the Bulldogs.
NewCath (28-4 overall) mixed up its defenses and often slid a teammate over when Bolden or guards Markel McClendon and Marcus Mullins tried to drive. But the trio made seven three-pointers combined. McClendon finished with 18 points.
"(Bolden) made a couple of deep ones, a couple with a hand up," said Ron Dawn, NewCath Head Coach. "He's capable of that. He's a heck of a player. McClendon made some. They shot the ball well. The stuck to their game plan and did a good job with it."
While Bolden had the big game, Holmes Head Coach Mike Listerman hoped the presence of post Rod Avery would give the Bulldogs a lift. He sat out of the regular season game that NewCath won 58-52 on Feb. 13 on the same floor.
It did make a difference as Avery finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. He scored two crucial buckets in the fourth quarter and had an offensive putback at the buzzer in the third quarter.
Newport Central Catholic posts Drew McDonald and Ben Weyer have been consistent all year. McDonald finished with 18 points and nine rebounds with Weyer going for 16 points and eight rebounds. Senior point guard Zack Pangallo finished with nine points for the Thoroughbreds.
The first quarter was even until Holmes went on a 4-0 run to go up 12-8. Jason Covington and Mullins scored the buckets for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs started to pull away some before the Thoroughbreds made some adjustments. Holmes scored seven straight led by a Mullins triple to go up 22-10 with 4:22 left in the half.
But NewCath responded with seven straight. Grant Moves keyed the run with a three-pointer and jumper with Weyer scoring down low to trim the margin to 22-17. Zack Pangallo hit a three to cut the lead to 24-20 Holmes at halftime.
The Thoroughbreds came out strong to start the third quarter. Three straight McDonald scores gave NewCath a 28-24 lead with 4:41 left in the third.
But Bolden came down and made a three from the left wing. After Pangallo scored, Bolden made another one from the same spot to tie the game at 30. The Bulldogs proceeded to score four straight to go up 34-30 and led 36-32 entering the fourth quarter.
Anderson made a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter for NewCath to trim the margin to 36-35. But McClendon hit a three and Bolden made two free throws before McDonald scored an Weyer converted a three-point play. Holmes led just 41-40 at that point.
That's when Bolden came through with seven more starting. That started when he drew a foul on a three-point shot and made two free throws. He made another triple and two more free throws to put the Bulldogs up 48-40 with 3:13 left in the game.
The Thoroughbreds did cut the margin to four twice in the last two minutes. But Holmes made the plays down the stretch to win the game.
The officiating from the 16th Region crew may have appeared off at times. But both teams committed 15 fouls each. No one fouled out from either team.
The Thoroughbreds graduate four seniors in McDonald, Pangallo, Moeves and Seth Freppon. Dawn does not want the loss to overshadow what they've accomplished in their four years on The Hill. They finished 109-20 in the four years with four district championships, three straight All "A" State championships and a region runner-up finish.
"They've averaged 27 wins over the last four years," Dawn said. "There's not too many teams that are going to do that."
NewCath will build around two returning starters in Weyer and Anderson. Reserves like John Ludwig will be looked upon to fill big roles.