By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds boys basketball team needed to beat the tournament hosts to achieve a major accomplishment this season.
The Thoroughbreds came through with a convincing 80-61 victory over the Ashland Blazer Tomcats (9-3) Saturday to win the 58th Annual Ashland Invitational Tournament at James A. Anderson Gym. NewCath stayed unbeaten at 11-0 as a result.
“Going down here in a different environment was a good experience for us,” said Grant Brannen, NewCath head coach. “It was pretty much everybody against us. We had to take on that mentality and the kids responded. We played really well. We shared the ball and did what we were supposed to do.”
The Thoroughbred guards did most of the damage in this game. Tournament Most Valuable Player Michael Bueter and Zack Pangallo burned the Tomcat full-court press consistently to tally 19 and 17 points on the evening.
The NewCath posts also came up big. Sophomore Drew McDonald finished with 19 points and five rebounds. Jake Schulte and Nick Seibert followed with 11 and 10 points respectively.
Pangallo keyed a crucial 12-0 run in the second quarter to help NewCath turn a five-point deficit into a seven-point advantage. The Thoroughbreds forced 15 Tomcats in the first half and led 39-32 at halftime.
NewCath pulled away in the third quarter. The Thoroughbreds led 61-43 entering the fourth quarter.
Ashland’s three-point shooting kept the game within striking distance. The Tomcats made 10-of-18 three-pointers for 55 percent. Nick Miller finished with a team-high 15 points for Ashland.
“(Ashland) is somewhat like us,” Brannen said. “They have a solid core group. They rotate five guys in and out. They shot the heck out of the three. So for us to win by 19 was a great accomplishment.”
The Thoroughbreds saw four players make the All-Tournament Team. McDonald, Pangallo and Jake Schulte joined Bueter on the squad.
NewCath does not play again until Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. when the in-town rival Newport Wildcats (8-3) come up the hill.
NCC girls 73, Southwestern 63
The Thoroughbreds (9-3) finished fifth in the Second Annual State Farm Classic with a win Saturday over the Lady Warriors (8-6).
Junior Nikki Kiernan once again controlled the paint with her fourth double-double of the tournament of 28 points and 14 rebounds to go with eight blocked shots. Kiernan made 6-of-7 free throws and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career.
Kiernan had plenty of help. Teammates Michaela Ware and Alexus Mayes followed with 14 and 12 points respectively. Mayes made two three-pointers.
Both teams made 14 free throws. But Southwestern shot a better percentage attempting 22 for 63 percent and NewCath attempted 26 for just 54 percent.
Addison Corder kept Southwestern within striking range. She finished with 23 points.
The Thoroughbreds do not play again until a matchup at 36th District arch-rival Highlands (10-4) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.