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Cov Cath Withstands Challenge from Simon Kenton, Wins 83-75

Covington Catholic added to their sterling season and remained unbeaten in the state of Kentucky after withstanding a mighty effort by host Simon Kenton in a shootout, 83-75.

It was night of crisp shooting and star performances as Cov Cath point guard, Nick Ruthsatz and Simon Kenton forward Taylor Morrison stuffed the stat sheet for their respective teams. Both players finished with 32 points and each were just a few assists short of earning a triple-double.

The game had a good energy from the start as Cov Cath (24-1) looked to immediately push the tempo and let their talented guards run the offense. Ruthsatz came out blazing early on and his activeness and tenacity only grew as the game progressed. Colonel big man, Mark Schult, showed nice range from 15 feet and out and banged underneath for some tough-guy points as well. He rattled off six straight points starting the second quarter which put his team up 12.

Had Cov Cath not fouled so much, they might have put the game away at that point, but during that first-half stretch, they gave them just enough opportunity from the foul line to let them hang around and really challenge them in the end.

After halftime, Simon Kenton forward Matt Mullins decided to amp up his intensity and spark his team to a much-needed run with six straight points of his own. That's when the real fun began.

Cov Cath consistently had the lead in the second half, but never by much. Taylor Morrison and teammate Alex Childers knocked down multiple big three-point baskets that refused to let the Pioneers go away. After each of these shots, it seemed Simon Kenton had finally mustered enough momentum to push ahead, but Nick Ruthsatz willed an answer each and every time. He highlighted his game's diversity with a highly-credible outside shot, a mid-range game, and a lightning-quick first step that allowed him to get to the rim on a regular basis.

In the fourth quarter, Simon Kenton missed a free throw that would have tied the game at 68 with under five minutes left. On the other end, Cov Cath spread out the floor and Ruthsatz caught the Pioneers sleeping by hitting Bo Schuh with a nice backdoor pass for an easy two.

Simon Kenton responded a few minutes later after Mullins found an inexplicably easy rebound off of his own missed free throw and knotted the score at 70 with a lay up.

The crowd was fired up and the tension was palpable.

This time, though, Cov Cath's other guard, Cole VonHandorf used his own quickness to drive hard to the basket and get fouled. He converted his two free throws and the Colonels never relinquished their lead again. On the other end, Pioneer guard Brenan Kuntz missed a three, Cov Cath responded with a drive-and-dish basket from VonHandorf to Schult and that pretty much sealed the deal.

Simon Kenton (12-11) gave the kind of performance that typically manages to pull off the upset. They hit crucial baskets down the stretch, fought hard for rebounds over bigger opponents and withstood Cov Cath's best punch for almost four quarters.

The Colonels, though, are a poised and veteran bunch. They have their star player in Ruthsatz, but their supporting cast is impressive by themselves. A mentally weaker team would have lost this game but Covington Catholic appears focused and determined for even greater things this season.

Story & photo by Bryan Burke

Other scores:

Holmes 55, Conner 54 (Daequan Glover's layup at the buzzer allowed Holmes to escape. Bulldogs improve to 22-5, Cougars drop to 10-12)

Newport Central Catholic 45, Trinity 44 (Thoroughbreds improve to 25-3 after this battle of top 5 KY teams)

Ludlow 77, Bellevue 62 (Panthers are 14-9, Tigers fall to 12-11)

Newport 60, Beechwood 44 (Wildcats are 15-9, Tigers drop to 10-14)

Silver Grove 79, Dayton 65 (Big Trains are now 15-10 and the Devils fall to 7-16)