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On to the Semifinals! Newport Catholic Rolls Over Murray at Rupp

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds continued their dominance in the 2016 Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys Basketball Sweet 16 tournament quarterfinals on Friday afternoon, defeating the Murray Tigers 75-54 at Rupp Arena.

New Cath will move on to face the winner of (Lexington) Paul Laurence Dunbar and Bowling Green, in the school’s first state semifinal game since 1954.

“I’m just really happy with the start we got off to,” New Cath Head Coach Ron Dawn said. “I thought it was really key for us to get the lead and we came out and didn’t get behind like we did the other day.”

Unlike Wednesday afternoon against (Louisville) Trinity when the 'Breds were slow to get started, New Cath came out with strong and accurate shooting, taking an 8-point lead after a three-pointer by Brian Anderson and one by Brennan Hall, as well as a few free throws from Eric Anderson.

At one point in the first half, New Cath went on an 18-2 run, jumping out to a 21-point lead going into halftime.

At the half, Newport Central Catholic was led in scoring by Ben Weyer with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Hall added 12 points, including a perfect two-for-two behind the three-point line.

Murray never found a rhythm in the second half, despite trading baskets with New Cath to begin the half.

The Tigers cut the New Cath lead to get as close as 13 in the third quarter, but it didn’t take long for New Cath to fight back to a 20-point lead behind the strong Weyer in the post and behind the three-point line.

Weyer has been the most consistent three-point shooter for New Cath this season, according to Dawn. He lived up to that praise on Friday afternoon, shooting an almost-perfect five-for-six behind the arc. On the day, the Thoroughbreds hit a total of 11 three-point baskets.

“I feel like when we get good looks, we shoot it pretty well,” Dawn said about his team’s success behind the arc. “When we’re not rushed and we don’t have a hand in our face, we shoot it pretty well.”

The fourth quarter wasn’t much of a battle for Murray and New Cath, as both coaches replaced their starters midway through the quarter so that bench players may have the Rupp Arena playing experience.

Weyer had yet another double-double, finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds, leading the team in both for the game. Hall was close behind with 21 points.

As a team, New Cath went 21-for-45 shooting from the field, including an astonishing 62.5 percent in the first quarter, compared to Murray’s 23.1 percent. New Cath also hit 22 free throws out of 26 attempts.

Murray was led in scoring by Ethan Clark with 10 points. No other Tiger finished in double-figures in points for the game.

Newport Central Catholic’s state semifinal matchup against the winner of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Bowling Green will be at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Story & photo by Clayton Castle, RCN contributor