Cov Cath, New Cath Advance in 9th Region, Will Face Each Other Sunday
Covington Catholic showed a different, yet equally effective way to win Wednesday night, as they blew past Ryle, 74-40, in the first round of the KHSAA 9th Region tournament.
Most fans at the Bank of Kentucky Center expected to see senior guard, and all-time Cov Cath leading scorer, Nick Ruthsatz, lead his team in points as he has done with such consistency this year, The night, however, belonged to fellow senior, Mark Schult, as the big man poured in 30 points in three quarters and dominated the Ryle front-court in a variety of ways.
From the very beginning, Ruthsatz appeared in a giving mood as he distributed rather than look to score. Shult immediately became the beneficiary as he nailed a three-pointer for the Colonels' first points. From there, he would close the first quarter with 11 points and be well on his way to a terrific evening.
Ryle showed life early. Senior shooting guard, Tanner White, looked very impressive in the first half as he quickly caught the attention of the Colonel coaching staff when he scored 13 points before halftime and showed an excellent shooting touch in doing so. Ryle fans chanted that Cov Cath could not stop White, and for about eight minutes this was true, but once coach Scott Ruthsatz assigned starting guard, Cole VonHandorf, to shadow White wherever he went, it extinguished the Ryle fire for good.
Meanwhile, Mark “The Shark” Schult snacked on his smaller defenders by simply standing near the rim. With Ruthsatz ability to drive and dish no-look passes on a regular basis, any big man would score points. But Schult showed more than just size and hustle. He hurt the Raiders inside and out as he delivered on three triples and converted from the foul line often. At one point during the third quarter, his 27 points were two more than Ryle's entire team. Everything was falling for the big fella on this night and it was a performance that would be difficult to replicate.
The score had already grown out of hand when Cole VonHandorf blew the doors completely off with eight points in the half's last two minutes, closing it out, 45-17.
The Colonels easily withstood their first-round challenge and showed the remaining contestants why they are viewed as a heavy hitter in this tournament. They face another heavy-hitter in Newport Central Catholic, Sunday at Noon, in the semi-final round of the 9th Region tournament.
Newport Central Catholic moves past St. Henry
Size was once again the advantage for Newport Central Catholic as they rolled St. Henry, 71-45 in the first round of the KHSAA 9th Region tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
Even though point-guard, Zach Pangallo, lead the team in scoring with 21, it was the jumbo front-court of NewCath that kept the Crusaders from ever truly competing in the game.
The Thoroughbreds run their offense with the intention of getting the ball to Drew McDonald, who can post up just about anyone he faces and can step back for three-point success as well. His teammate Jake Schulte is another big body in the post, who is not quite the shooter that McDonald is, but is supremely coordinated for a person of his size and age. This athletic development allows him to use sharp footwork and makes him a very strong rebounder.
The St. Henry big men were simply outmatched, as both NewCath front-court starters finished with 15 points each and dominated inside throughout the night.
Their size also had an impact on defense. The Crusaders looked unable to run a cohesive offense against NewCath. All of their shots seemed contested or low-percentage and getting rebounds proved to be a major accomplishment.
The icing on the cake for the Thoroughbreds was the play of Pangallo, who was exquisite. Not only did he make four from behind the arc, he also kept the offense under control with his tempo and scoring. Defensively, he and fellow guard, Tanner Moeves contributed to the rough shooting night for St. Henry by harassing the Crusader guards into shaky shots and turnovers.
The Thoroughbreds have won 22 straight games and improved to 29-3 on the season. The Crusaders finish the year at 14-11.
The big test for the Breds comes on Sunday at Noon, when NewCath takes on Covington Catholic in the semi-finals.
Game stories by Bryan Burke, RCN contributor
Game photos by Brian Frey, RCN contributor