Cov Cath & Holmes to Meet in District Finals After Wins on Wednesday
Covington Catholic trounced Holy Cross in the semifinals of the KHSAA 35th District Tournament, 79-57, at the Bank of Kentucky Center on Wednesday night.
Holy Cross hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions in the game's opening minutes and never came close again. Cov Cath executed early with phenom freshman guard, Cole VonHandorf, dominating early on—both inside and out. His superstar running mate, senior Nick Ruthsatz, certainly made his presence felt in the game, scoring 10 points before making way for the backups in garbage time, but it was VonHandorf that allowed the game to flow his way as he dropped in an efficient 11 points in the half and headed into the locker room with his team up 47-22.
The Colonel backcourt is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses because of their supreme quickness to the hoop, coupled with their outside shooting ability. Ruthsatz is a bouncy guard with a lot of head and shoulder fakes. He gets to the rim freely and has a soft touch around the rim, but he does perhaps resort to the spin move too often. VonHandorf moves well without the ball and has a knack for being in the right spots for open looks. He plays with a maturity and development not often found in freshmen.
Among the Cov Cath bench that saw extensive minutes in the second half, Matthew Shumate stood out with some quality baskets, including a nice left-handed finish on a fast break. Shumate contributed 10 points off the pine.
Holy Cross was not without their own bright spots, however. Junior forward, Jared Seibert showed a nice shooting touch and decent overall game as he quietly led the game in scoring with 21 points.
The best moment of the night, though, was well into the second half, when the contest had long been decided, and Holy Cross sent in a very small eighth-grade guard named Nolan Schrand who shot from his chest and knocked down four three-pointers in row, including one from far beyond the arc. If a rise was to be credited toward the game's crowd, it was prompted by this unlikely shooting exhibition by Schrand.
Holmes 62, Beechwood 37
Holmes overcame an early scare by Beechwood, but comfortably prevailed in the end, 62-37, in the semifinals of the KHSAA 35th District Tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center at Northern Kentucky University.
After the first quarter, you would have thought a close game was shaping up. Holmes came out flat and didn't shoot well early on. Beechwood, on the other hand, ran their motion offense effeciently, and were encouraged by their head coach, Eric Goetz, to remain patient. Holmes decided to attack the Tigers with a full-court trap, but Beechwood listened to their coach, and, in the first half, calmly waded through the pressure for easy hoops.
Beechwood senior guard Max Stover was especially effective in the first quarter with three nice baskets around the hoop and led his team to a 14-10 first-quarter advantage. Stover led his team with 10 points on the night. The tone changed in the second quarter, however, when Stover was slapped with two fouls and sent to the bench.
Holmes responded to his absence with an immediate 12-4 run, sparked by energetic full-court defense, guard James Bolden's steady hand running the offense, and a huge night by forward Rod Avery off the bench doing just about everything.
As patient and calm as the Beechwood ball-handlers had been early on, they became gassed and flustered by the end. The quickness and tenacity of the Holmes pressure wore the Tigers down and the turnovers began to come in bunches. The Bulldogs are a team that is comfortable playing a high-tempo game and their trapping defense really stresses the opposing guard play.
James “Beetle” Bolden never looks flustered or gasses and he showcased his smooth game once again leading all scores with 20 points, including a four-point play to finish the third quarter. During the crucial second-quarter run, his pretty left-handed runner gave Holmes the lead, 23-21, and the Bulldogs never looked back.
Avery was a stat-sheet stuffer Wednesday night with 16 points, seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks. The lanky junior dominated the glass as soon as he checked into the game and remained very active throughout the night. He, along with fellow big men, Quinton Chames and Marcus Hill, provided terrific length underneath for the Bulldogs that proved impossible to match for Beechwood.
Holmes then decided the game with a 22-6 third-quarter and the rest was history. In the end, Beechwood played hard, but simply didn't have the firepower and composure to withstand the wave of athleticism that Holmes puts on all of its opponents.
Holmes plays Covington Catholic in the KHSAA 35th District Championship Game, 7:30, Saturday, at the Bank of Kentucky Center at Northern Kentucky University.
Written by Bryan Burke, RCN contributor
Photos by Brian Frey, RCN contributor