Dixie Upsets Defending Champ Cov Cath 62-47
The top-ranked Covington Catholic Colonels were knocked from their perch atop the polls as the Dixie Colonels vanquished the defending state champions,62-47, at The Bank of Kentucky Center on Friday night. The shocking loss for Cov Cath snaps a 12-game winning streak and further legitimizes Dixie as a 9th Region sleeper team.
The game was a surprise from the start for Cov Cath as sophomore shooting guard Cole VonHandorf had one of the worst scoring nights of likely his young career as he was unable to score from the field (0-10) and finished with four points on late meaningless free throws.
Cov Cath was dominated inside by Dixie on both ends of the floor. Dixie looked like Syracuse University the way they stretched the floor defensively with their 2-3 zone. Because of the length of Dixie, their side-to-side barracade of allowing anything open inside, flustered CCH into shooting only 27 percent in the first half.
“I'm a hardcore man-to-man person, but we knew this year if we were going to play a couple of our bigs at the same time, we're going to have give something up and our zone has been pretty solid this year, but we started cleaning some things up on it,” said Dixie head coach Ken Chevalier. “We wanted to start with the bigs, punish them inside on the interior and just cover some spots on the 2-3 zone.”
Covington Catholic simply passed the ball around the parameter hoping to find some hidden angle to the basket, but when they did enter the paint they often pulled up for awkward pull up jump shots which they mostly missed.
On the other end, Dixie shot very well at 57 percent and dominated the glass with 20 rebounds, including eight offensive. Their putbacks, mixed with Austin Schrek's aggressive play attacking the rim, helped Dixie build a first quarter which they would push to 15 by halftime. Schrek finished the game with a game-high 15 points.
“We did an excellent job rebounding,” Chevalier said after the game. “That's the one thing when you play zone, a lot of times you give up a lot of offensive rebounds and I thought our kids were exceptional on the glass tonight.”
Dixie forward Andrew Hedger was a nice example of the kind of hustle and effort that separated the two teams at the half. Hedger led the game with eight points, while his frontcourt mate Mitchell Bolin added six points and six rebounds.
“When you're on a two-game losing streak and you're playing at The Bank of Kentucky Center against one of the top teams in the region and the defending state champ, if you're not diving on the floor and taking the charge and boxing somebody out, then you're playing the wrong sport,” Chevalier said. “I was proud of our kids from that standpoint in the regard that we did play with a lot of energy.”
Cov Cath is a smaller team that often relies on transition points and made jump shots, but Dixie was able to minimize that style and slow CCH's speed to more of a grind than a sprint. The team's stars, Cole VonHandorf and Bo Schuh, each struggled scoring, going a combined 1-11 at halftime.
“If you notice, there were a few possessions in the second half where we had a double-digit lead and it seemed like they took a minute off of the clock looking for a shot and that's what we want,” Chevalier said.
After halftime, Cov Cath seemed to wake up some. Bo Schuh found his mid-range jump shooting touch which kept Dixie from running away with the game altogether. After Matthew Schumate sank his second three-pointer of the game and Schuh followed up with a 16-footer, Cov Cath ended a Dixie run that threatened to blow out the top team of the region.
Cov Cath rode the wave of momentum, going on a 9-0 run and closing the deficit to 12 when Schumate made his third from beyond the arc. Their halfcourt trap frustrated Dixie into more mistakes and worse shots, but once it became apparent that it was bothering them, Dixie coach Ken Chevalier called a series of timeouts to help settle his team down. It worked to the point of ending the only real threat that Cov Cath posed all evening as Dixie finished off the third quarter up by 16 points.
The fourth quarter then became a series of foul shooting for Dixie as Cov Cath looked to extend the game at the free-throw line. Cov Cath was able to shoot better when they had the ball and Bo Schuh's jumper with under three minutes left cut the Dixie lead to 12. Over a slow grind, CCH was able to cut it to nine points with under four minutes left, but the misses continued for VonHandorf and the rest of the defending state champs. Role players Shumate, Andy Flood, and Noah Lenhof did what they were asked to do but the star players—VonHandorf and Schuh—did not live up to their typically stellar play. VonHandorf finished 0-10 from the field.
Dixie (18-7) has no time to rest as they travel to play at Scott on Saturday night, while Cov Cath (23-5) will host Simon Kenton on Tuesday.
- Story by Bryan Burke, associate editor/Photos by Brian Frey, RCN photgrapher