Colonels Pick Up 20th Win with Easy Victory Over Scott
Covington Catholic reached its 20th win of the season on Tuesday when the Colonels scorched Scott, 83-46, at home. The defending state champions are putting together an excellent follow-up season from their title run and have now won 15 of their last 16 games.
On Tuesday, they faced a team who is regularly composed of excellent jump shooters, but Cov Cath head coach Scott Ruthsatz and his staff were focused on limiting the Eagles from the outside.
“We know they do a good job of shooting and getting to the free-throw line, so we had to pick our poison,” Coach Ruthsatz said. “For us, extending their range from 19 to 20 feet out to 25 feet, would negate a lot of their shooting opportunities. They do a good job of driving the lane with kick-outs, so we thought by going zone we would eliminate their penetration.”
The Eagles really struggled shooting on the evening, going 3-16 from the outside, and missing all seven of their shots beyond the arc in the first half. They seemed frazzled from the start as they tried to push the pace in the first quarter, but quickly found out that the Colonels are a running team as well and it seemed to play into Cov Cath's hands rather than confuse or tire them.
It's easy to understand why Eagles head coach Brad Carr would stick with his team's quick style. Scott has no big players that play meaningful minutes and certainly have nothing that could easily be describe as a center. They spread their offense out and work the parameter until they find an open look. Typically, they are pretty reliable shooters and passers. Tonight, though, the Colonels almost immediately derailed them by running past them and forcing the Eagles to score inside which, because of their lack of size, became difficult for them.
On the other side, Colonel guards Cooper Theobald and Cole VonHandorf took the ball at the rim at every chance they saw while in transition. Left-handed players are historically good in transition because the majority of players don't play the left as well, and this only adds to the scoring proficiency of VonHandorf. It seems like it's always him on the left side and Theobald on the right, racing to the basket. The quality outlet passing of senior forward Bo Schuh on rebounds caters to the guards' fastbreak talents.
VonHandorf led the scoring with 21 in the game and Theobald added 15. VonHandorf averages just over 18 a game on the season.
It also leads to a lot of fouls. Unofficially, the Colonels probably lead Northern Kentucky in block/charge calls because of how aggressively they attack the rim. They might as well nickname Theobald “Floor Burn” for as much time as he spends getting off the ground. There were 63 free-throws shot in the game, and it seemed like all the stopping and starting was another reason Scott was unable to get into a shooting rhythm in the game.
“We're not trying to foul, believe me” Ruthsatz said. “We're trying to play somewhat aggressive but we're trying to play good half court man, and what happens a lot of times, especially with the guys that (Scott) has, is that they really get in the lanes. There's no traditional post in there and they're just looking for driving lanes.”
After taking an early lead and shutting the Eagles down to the tune of eight points in the second quarter, the game was over by halftime with Cov Cath taking a 44-21 advantage heading into the locker room. Throughout the first half, Coach Ruthsatz went deep into his bench and rested his stars for lengthy stretches.
This, plus the blowout time in the second half when the score reached thirty and beyond, allowed some of the lesser-seen Colonels to have sizable spans of playing time. Forwards Ryan Massie and Austin Sweeney played well when they had the chance, and so did Aiden Ruthsatz: Scott's son and last year's Colonel star Nick Ruthsatz's younger brother. The freshman is small as expected, but showed some passing flash with some nice dishes in the open floor.
“He's a traditional point guard. It's something that we've been working on for a couple of years now. Nick, his brother, brought him a long, long way from the time he was in seventh-grade and not starting for his grade-school team to where he is now,” Scott Ruthsatz said about his son. “He followed Nick for the last couple of summers, played a lot of one-on-one with him and went to the open gyms. He's got to be our guy in the future that we can put the ball in his hands and he make things happen for us.”
The Eagles were able to muster a few three-pointers after the deficit had grown too large to matter and the stat of the team shooting 13-25 from the free-throw line points to their fatigue. Sophomore guard Jake Ohmer, who leads Northern Kentucky with 22 points a game and dropped 51 earlier this season, finished with just eight. One of the most pure shooters in the area was scoreless from the beyond the arc in his four chances from deep.
Cov Cath (20-4) will try to push their winning streak to 10 on Thursday when they host Dixie Highway rival, Beechwood. Scott (12-10) has another tough test this week at Conner on Thursday.
Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor