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Colonels Top Indians in Season Opener

Covington Catholic looked strong in their first game as defending Kentucky state basketball champions as they easily handled Holy Cross, 74-56, in Park Hills on Friday night in front of a sold out crowd and a raucous environment.

“I thought for the first game and with a lot guys playing new roles I thought they played well, I really did,” Cov Cath head coach Scott Ruthsatz said after the game. “I thought they defended well, for the most part moved the ball well, shared the ball well and they made free throws.”

Cov Cath featured balanced scoring and an efficient night on offense, as four Colonels finished with double-digit point totals and as a team shot 59 percent from the field. Sophomore guard Cole VonHandorf looked comfortable as the team's new top gun as he led the team with 18 points, many of which came on dribble drives to the hoop.

Senior center and three-year starter Bo Schuh is the glue of this team and his leadership and court awareness were easy to spot in the season opener. Schuh ended with 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals and appeared to be more of a focal point of the offense as a distributor from the paint than last year. His ability to dictate the offense from the frontcourt allowed the other Colonels to spread the floor and find open cutters and jump shooters on crisp passing.

“Bo has a lot of experience the last two seasons, so we look at him as a leader. We also look at Cole as a sophomore as a leader, and all of our seniors,” said Ruthsatz.

VonHandorf, Schuh and Grant Romes are used to the minutes they will see this season after being key contributors in last year's title run, but it was the new guys that looked to have fit in nicely to their new roles. Guard Cooper Theobald lived up to his coaches praises before the season started as one of the most improved players on his team. On Friday, Theobald demonstrated some nice floor vision on a few fast breaks and looks comfortable in transition.

“Cooper Theobald has come a long, long way,” Ruthsatz said Friday night. “He's still kind of learning the position so to speak. He played behind Nick Ruthsatz last year, but learned a lot and came out in this atmosphere and really gave a great effort.”

For Holy Cross, it seemed that the intensity of the home crowd perhaps bothered them in the game's early stages as they played annoyed most of the night. It was something of a one man show out of the gates for the Indians as forward Tyler Bezold was the only one to keep them within ten points. Bezold is a versatile player with a wider body and good height, but also has a decent jumper and plays with a lot of heart as he regularly banged with the Colonel bigs underneath. Bezold led the game in scoring with 19 points and also kicked in four rebounds and three steals, and teammate guard Carter Zimmerman added 11, but most of those points came late when the game had been decided.

As a team, Holy Cross shot only 25 percent from the field in the first half and relied far too heavily on poor three-point shooting, going 5 from17 from deep. They were also outsized as Schuh and the rest of the Colonels frontcourt made life difficult on the Holy Cross players.

Another sign of a good team is the ability to close out big leads with good free-throw shooting down the stretch, and the Colonels did exactly that as they made all 13 attempts in the second half.

“You can try to replicate it in practice, but until you get in this atmosphere, it's easy to lose your wind real quick and I was really proud that they just grind through it,” said Ruthsatz.

Cov Cath (1-0) hosts St. Henry next Tuesday night, while Holy Cross (2-1) tries to bounce back at home against South Oldham.

Other scores:

Campbell County 58, Dixie 51
Scott 89, Pendleton County 56
Mason County 67, Simon Kenton 58
Boone County 57, Walton Verona 38
Moeller (Cin.) 58, Ryle 28
 
Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor