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NCC, Newport Roll in 36th District Semifinals Round

Newport Central Catholic and Highlands’ basketball programs are far from strangers. In the last fifteen 36th District tournaments, their paths have crossed thirteen times, including twelve District Championship match-ups. NCC has won eight of those thirteen district tournament battles with Highlands, including the last five.

In this rare first-round matchup, NCC controlled the game right from the tip. The Thoroughbreds came out applying full-court pressure to Highlands’ guards, forcing them to play at a faster and more frenetic pace than which they are accustomed.

Highlands turned the ball over seven times en route to digging themselves into a 23-2 deficit after one quarter. Junior forward Ben Weyer started the game matched up with Highlands’ leading scorer, Parker Harris. Weyer’s length made it extremely tough for Harris to gain any separation away from the ball.

Senior center Drew McDonald scored NCC’s first eight points of the second quarter, extending the lead 31-6 by the 5:00 mark. Senior guard Grant Pangallo converted a fast break layup as the clock expired in the first half, giving NCC a 46-11 lead at the break.

Weyer scored all eight of Newcath’s third quarter points, as NCC outscored Highlands 8-6 in the third period. Weyer finished the game with 12 points. The Thoroughbreds won the final quarter as well, 13-9, for a final score of 67-28.

Drew McDonald led the way offensively for Newcath, tallying 18 points on 8/13 shooting, and pulling down 11 rebounds. Highlands struggled to match up with McDonald’s unique blend of size, power, and finesse.

“We always tell our guys when the weather is as bad as it’s been, that if they can get in for practice great, and if not, that’s fine too. But they always show up,” said NCC head coach Ron Dawn. “Our guys are very focused on what we need to do, and they have been all year. If we come ready to play, I like our team’s chances.”

Parker Harris led Highlands in scoring with 10 points.

Newport Central Catholic moves on to the 36th District Championship game Friday night, where they will take on Newport High School at 7:00 p.m. NCC looks to capture their fifth straight District Championship, and extend their current season winning streak to 17 games when they battle the Wildcats on their home floor. 

With the win, Newcath improves their season record to 27-3. The loss drops Highlands’ record to 8-17 on the year. 


Newport 74, Bellevue 49

In the 36th District Tournament game Wednesday night, Newport staggered Bellevue early and never looked back, topping the Tigers by a final score of 74-49.

Thanks to four early three-pointers, including three by Senior guard Paul Price, Newport jumped out to a 17-4 lead by the midway point of the first quarter.  Bellevue created several good looks at the basket in the first period, but had trouble finishing. After one quarter, Newport led 27-8.

Bellevue came out in a zone defense in the early portion of the game, but Newport quickly shot Bellevue out of it. Of Newport’s 27 first-quarter points, only two came in the paint.

Paul Price picked up his second foul early in the second quarter after pouring in 11 first-quarter points, but Junior guard Ethan Snapp picked up the offensive slack for the Wildcats. Snapp utilized shot fakes and ball fakes to get his defender off balance and draw fouls. He finished the first half with 12 points.  

Freshman guard Rico Hollis also provided a spark for the Wildcats’ backcourt in the second quarter, using his quick first step to penetrate into the paint at will on the offensive end.

Newport went ice cold in the final minutes of the first half, however, and Bellevue seized the opportunity to shrink their deficit to 40-25 by halftime.

Newport quickly widened the margin back to a comfortable level in the second half. Price’s fourth three-pointer of the night capped a 10-0 flurry to open the third quarter for the Wildcats, extending their lead to 50-25. Bellevue played Newport even the remainder of the game for a final score of 74-49.

Price led the Wildcats in scoring with 24 points. “Paul played like a senior,” said Newport head coach Rodney Snapp. “He was going to make it awfully tough for us to lose here tonight. He played hard. I think he remembered last year when Highlands knocked us out in the first round, and he didn’t want to go out like that.”

Junior guard Ethan Snapp chipped in 14 points for Newport, and Junior forward Kameron Covington just missed a double-double with nine points and 15 rebounds.

“Kameron has been really impressive on offense the last few weeks. He’s been expanding his shot to mid-range and the three-point line in practice, so that makes him really hard to guard in games,” said Snapp.

Senior forward Zach Barrett led the way offensively for the Tigers with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Newport moves on to play the red-hot Thoroughbreds of Newport Central Catholic Friday in the 36th District Championship game at Newport High School at 7:00 p.m. With tonight’s win, Newport improves to 14-15 on the season. The loss drops Bellevue’s final record to 15-13. 

- Story and photo by Alex Valentine, RCN contributor