In Battle of Defending Regional Champs, Cov Cath Pulls Away from Campbell Co.
In a battle of regional winners a year ago, Covington Catholic found themselves in a dog fight against Campbell County at home for three quarters on Wednesday night, but blasted off in the fourth to win easily, 65-46.
It was the fourth game in six days for the Colonels after spending the weekend playing other elite Kentucky teams in Louisville, but after hammering Bellevue on Monday and making an impressive statement against a good team on Wednesday, Covington Catholic has shown already that they are legitimate defending state champions.
Campbell County came out hot with Deondre Jackson zooming past everyone off of the dribble and getting fouled in the process. His quickness helped Campbell County roll off 13 straight unanswered points in the first quarter and closed it out with a 17-12 lead. Jackson finished with 15 points on the evening.
The Colonels responded with a run of their own as coach Scott Ruthsatz called for his scorer, Cole VonHandorf, to become isolated with his defender and create an open shot for himself. It warmed up the sophomore sensation and propelled Cov Cath into the lead by halftime.
After the half, the Camels made it more of a priority to find their talented big man Matt Wilson down low in the post. This allowed the center to get busy on the blocks as he proved simply too big for only one Colonel to handle. His brief domination on the glass after halftime game Campbell County a big dose of confidence and a second-half lead.
“We just thought if we could keep a body on him at all times when around the rim, that our guards would have to get in there and get six, seven, eight rebounds,” Ruthsatz said of Wilson. “There were times we did well, and there were times where he dominated the boards with his height, but I thought overall, especially in the fourth quarter we did a great job.”
Cov Cath then went with a full-court trap and harassed the Camels into two straight turnovers that resulted in immediate points to give the Colonels back the lead. That small stretch of negative play for the Camels spiraled out of control and became a total collapse. Suddenly, Cov Cath found a streaking player on an outlet pass off of a rebound seemingly on every Camel miss and turned it into either an easy lay up or a foul on the other end. When senior forward Bo Schuh threw down a powerful ally-oop jam, the flood gates opened and a route quickly ensued.
“We told the kids early on that we thought we could get up the court on them,” Coach Ruthsatz said. “For some reason in the first half, we couldn't really get going.”
First VonHandorf stole the ball and converted it into a lay up. Then Schuh took a charge and followed it up with a sweet interior pass to guard Cooper Theobald. Then reserve Andy Flood got a rebound from a missed free throw and converted on a put-back where he was fouled on the play as well. It was a perfect storm for the Colonels that turned a two-point game at the end of the third quarter into a 19-point blowout by the end
The Colonels only committed three turnovers on the night and shot 60 percent from inside. Four of their players reached double-digits in scoring, led by VonHandorf with 18 points. For Campbell County, Matt Wilson led the way with team highs 17 points and six rebounds.
Cov Cath next plays Knott County Central in the Kentucky Bank Challenge at Rowen County on Saturday.
Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor