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Cov Cath Rolls Over Newport, Conner Outlasts St. Henry in 9th Region

After beating Newport by 31 points earlier in the season, the Covington Catholic Colonels repeated that performance and defeated the Wildcats 77-48 in the 9th Region opening round on Wednesday night at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University.

The Colonels were led in scoring by Cole Vonhandorf with 26 points, despite being pulled in the fourth quarter to allow bench players to play. AJ Mayer also added 16 points for the Colonels.

“It makes it so much easier when we have three other guards out there who can put the ball in the basket,” Vonhandorf said. “It spaces out the floor, especially on this big court, and makes it easier.”

Vonhandorf said it was the defense that won the game for the Colonels.

“Since about four weeks ago, most of our practices have been working on defense,” Vonhandorf said. “It really helps us keep them from points and getting fast breaks.”

Cov Cath Head Coach Scott Ruthsatz also credited the defense for the win.

“I thought defensively, we played really well; keep them in front, contesting shots,” Ruthsatz said. “And offensively we got off to a really good start.”

The Colonels began the game on an 8-0 run before a three-pointer by Newport’s Ethan Snapp put the Wildcats on the board.

After leading 15-6 at the end of the first quarter, Cov Cath began the second quarter on a 9-2 run to put the Colonels ahead 24-8 midway through the second quarter.

Cov Cath (27-6) took a 35-18 lead into the locker room at halftime behind Vonhandorf’s 12 first-half points.

Throughout the second half, Newport (17-15) could not catch up to the Colonels as the Colonels pulled away to a 77-48 win to advance to the semifinals of the Region Nine tournament.

Snapp and Kedan Davis each led Newport in scoring with 13 points, while Anthony Harmon added 11.

In addition to his 26 points, Vonhandorf shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line, 3-for-5 from behind the three-point arc, and 9-for-16 from the field.

Ruthsatz praised Vonhandorf’s performance, saying his experience has been a factor for him this year.

“He has so much experience, having been to a state championship situation and a final four situation, and he’s had great guards to lead the way,” Ruthsatz said. “I think everybody is looking to him for leadership and identity and that’s been the difference.”

Cov Cath will advance to play Conner on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. The Colonels faced Conner in January, defeating the Cougars 60-29 in Hebron.

Conner 62, St. Henry 59

Despite being down for much of the first three quarters of the game, the Connor Cougars clawed back to beat the St. Henry Crusaders 62-59 in the 9th Region quarterfinals on Wednesday night at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University.

Spencer Hemmerich led all Cougars in scoring with 29 points, while Michael Scott added 14 points and Travis Connley added 11.

For St. Henry, Adam Goetz led the way with 27 points, while Stephen Maley and Paul Wallenhorst each contributed 12 points.

St. Henry began the game with sharp shooting from behind the three-point arc, pulling out a 9-7 lead to begin the game. Scott began that stretch with five points for Conner (18-10).

After the game being tied at 11 with 2:53 left in the first quarter, St. Henry went on a 12-0 run to close out the quarter, leading the Cougars 23-11 after one quarter. It was in the first quarter that Goetz scored 12 of his 27 points.

Throughout the second quarter, Connor attempted to come back and take the lead, getting within four points at one point. Despite sharp shooting by Hemmerich in the second quarter, St. Henry (14-17) took a 35-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Hemmerich took over in the third quarter, scoring 10 of his 29 points, while Goetz was held to one point in the third quarter. That allowed Conner to inch closer to the Crusaders, as it was only a five-point game after this third quarter.

After being close to shutout the entire third quarter, Goetz got on a roll to begin the fourth quarter, scoring six points within 15 seconds of each other and allowing St. Henry to extend its lead.

Conner began dominating on defense in the final four minutes of the game, accruing two steals and six points within a 30-second stretch to take a 54-53 lead.

The lead would hold up until the final buzzer, as St. Henry was not able to convert on multiple opportunities, including stealing an inbound pass while being down by one point.

The Cougars next will face Covington Catholic, a team that beat the Cougars by 31 points in January.

9th Region first round action continues Friday evening when Newport Central Catholic (25-4) takes on Cooper (24-4) and Dixie Heights (19-10) faces Holy Cross (22-8).

8th Region

Simon Kenton fell in overtime in the opening round, 54-52 to Collins. The Pioneers end their season at 12-17.

Walton-Verona (18-10) takes the floor on Thursday night in the first round against Anderson County (16-13). The 8th Region games are being played at Henry County.

10th Region

Campbell Co. fell by a basket to Mason County in the opening round at Montgomery County High School. The Camels' season ends at 19-13.

Scott (13-16) faces Augusta (22-6) on Thursday night.

Written by Clayton Castle, RCN contributor

Photo via meetNKY