Photos: Newport Central Catholic Claims Another All A Classic Regional Title
Newport Central Catholic remains dominant in the All “A” Classic tournament as they earned their third straight Ninth Region All “A” championship on Saturday when they smashed St. Henry, 85-44. Winners of the last two All “A” state tournaments, the Thoroughbreds have now won 22 straight All “A” games and are likely to be one of the favorites to win in Frankfort beginning Thursday.
New Cath (15-3) averaged a 51-point margin of victory in their three games in the regional tournament.
St. Henry (12-8) needed one of two things to happen: either they make nearly every shot, or catch New Cath on a bad night. Neither of those things unfolded on the way to a severe blowout for a championship game.
The NCC big men are such a difficult match-up for teams because of how skilled both senior Drew McDonald and junior Ben Weyer appear to be. Each can step outside and hit three-pointers, both are excellent passers in the post (often to one another), and both are quality rebounders because of their size. Weyer's arms are extremely long and he has terrific shot-blocking instincts, exemplified against St. Henry when he blocked three shots and changed many others in roughly a half.
The two bigs got things going right away with Weyer draining mid-range jumpers and dunks, and McDonald doing work in the paint. Senior point guard Zach Pangallo started to get into the act, knocking down threes and scoring on backdoor cuts, and the pressure was immediately on the Crusaders to respond.
The two best scoring options for St. Henry are center Conner Kunstek, and forward Paul Wallenhorst who each labored with the task of facing the New Cath frontcourt. Kunstek played well early on, showing some range as he made two three-pointers in the first quarter, and wound up leading his team with 14 points in the end, but he was the only player in double figures and even he missed a lot of shots on the night.
Missing shots was a problem because the Breds did very little of it. They finished the evening shooting 59 percent, while St. Henry shot 30 percent. The quality of the shots New Cath enjoyed was easily apparent as the ball moved at will and players knew exactly where to be. When head coach Ron Dawn's system is operating correctly, it becomes a tall task to run with the Breds.
Once it was halftime and New Cath led 42-23, the game was already pretty much in hand. If there was any question remaining, it was stifled by back-to-back threes by guard John Ludwig and McDonald that blew the contest open and allowed Dawn to play his back ups and their back ups for the rest of the way.
The big three for New Cath led the way with McDonald posting 22 points and 14 rebounds, Pangallo with 18 points and Weyer with 12.
The quest for an All “A” Classic state championship three-peat begins at the Frankfort Convention Center at11:30am where the Thoroughbreds will play the Third Region winner between Hancock County and Edmonson County.
Ninth Region All “A” All-Tournament Team
Zach Pangallo (NCC), Drew McDonald (NCC), Grant Moeves (NCC), Jacob Huff (Beechwood), Matthew Fryman (Bellevue), Matt Grimme (Dayton), Isaiah Liske (Heritage), Jared Seibert (Holy Cross), Hayden Molitor (Lloyd), Kalib Mitchell (Ludlow), Ethan Snapp (Newport), Thomas Schultzman (Villa), Devin Davis (Cov. Latin), Conner Kunstek (St. Henry), Adam Goetz (St. Henry).
(1) Covington Catholic 80, Hughes (Cin.) 46
*Holmes was scheduled to play in the Joe B. Hall Classic on Saturday, but the games were postponed and will be rescheduled.
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Photos by Brian Frey, RCN contributor