New Cath Advances in All A State Tournament After Rout of Hancock Co.
The two-time defending state champions of the Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic Tournament, Newport Central Catholic, extended its unbeaten streak in the event to 22 games after trouncing Hancock County, 67-31, in Frankfort on Thursday afternoon.
The Thoroughbreds arrived at the Frankfort Convention Center fresh after hammering all three of their regional foes in the tournament with an average margin of victory of 51 points. When asked if he was concerned with the lack of formidable opposition of late, New Cath head coach Ron Dawn said it is sometimes on his mind.
“That's always a factor and one of those things you worry about,” he said. “I think tomorrow's game will be tough and if we get to Saturday, Lexington Christian is good. We've played quite a few good teams already. When you're in the “A” you get some stretches like that, but I think we will be able to bounce back, adjust and be okay.”
At first, the game looked to be competitive, but as it went on, the better team rapidly emerged.
The NCC crowd was sparse at the beginning of that game, likely due to the fatal automobile accident in Boone County on I-71 that happened earlier in the morning, which stopped traffic on the highway in both directions for quite some time.
For being the lowest ranked team in the tournament, though, Hancock came out confident led by point guard Ty Ogle who had seven first-quarter points. With Ogle leading the charge, the Hornets hung around in the opening period, only down one by the second, but then the wheels began to fall off for Hancock.
The problems became many for the Hornets. For one, they didn't have anyone to match the size of forwards Ben Weyer and Drew McDonald. For another, the turnovers starting cropping up in abundance for them which prevented them from really competing much at all in the second quarter. The Breds ran off 20 unanswered points in that span and their lead swelled from one to 20 points in the blink of an eye.
“I think we're working hard defensively,” Dawn said. “The first quarter we had some breakdowns, other than that I think we adjusted and did a pretty good job.”
Reserve guard John Ludwig came off the bench to knock down four shots from beyond the arc, and senior point guard Zach Pangallo also joined the party with five second-quarter points. Ludwig has seen more and more action as the season's moved forward. He can shoot the lights out and doesn't make many mistakes while on the court.
“He's always been a good shooter for us, but he's now getting to do some of the other stuff,” said Dawn. “He's better defensively and handling the ball and that kind of stuff. He's going to be a key for us before the end of the season.”
The Breds also went to a full-court defense which frazzled the Hornets into even more turnovers (nine in the half) and difficult shots. McDonald and Weyer dominated the glass, combining for 11 first-half rebounds, and found easy scoring down low and it became quickly apparent that a blowout was in the works.
When the halftime buzzer sounded, the New Cath had outscored Hancock 23-2 in the second quarter. Weyer finished the half with team highs, 10 points and six rebounds.
It was hard to discern how Hancock could climb back into the game. It seemed that their only chance was to get hot from the outside, because scoring underneath appeared too difficult against the much taller New Cath frontcourt.
The did not happen for the Hornets. Instead, the third quarter was a lot like the second with many more turnovers and many more missed shots for Hancock County. Meanwhile, the New Cath starters rolled along with no problem as McDonald increased his scoring total to 10 to go along with a couple of blocks and Grant Moeves also found some more scoring chances in the third as he piled his total up to 10 points as well. Hancock managed just six points in the third, and by the end of the period, the game was clearly out of hand.
NCC finished with four players in double-figures: John Ludwig, Ben Weyer and Grant Moeves each had 12, while Drew McDonald had 10 points and nine rebounds in less than three quarters of play.
The Breds finished the second and third quarters with a 44-8 point differential. They play Elliott County on Friday at 6:30pm at the Frankfort Convention Center in the quarterfinal round.
Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor