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NCC Rolls, Captures 7th Straight District Title

From the standpoint of size and length, Newport matches up with Newport Central Catholic about as well as anyone else in the 9th Region. Despite the 30-point drubbing NCC handed Newport in early January, the 36th District Championship looked to be a close contest on paper. Once the ball was tipped, however, NCC simply dominated, particularly on defense, en route to a 56-23 win.

After a pair of early New Cath three-pointers, both teams went ice cold on offense in the first quarter.

Newport Junior guard and leading scorer Ethan Snapp had several good looks on offense, but shot after shot rimmed out. Newport’s front line did a stellar job of boxing out NCC big man Drew McDonald on missed shots, and kept him from pulling down a single rebound in the first quarter. Just five made field goals later, the first quarter ended with NCC holding an 11-3 lead.

The story of the first half, for both sides, was defense. Newport senior guard Paul Price managed to do what very few teams have been able to: keep NCC point guard Zach Pangallo out of the lane. Pangallo is the straw that stirs the Thoroughbreds' drink, and Price made Pangallo uncomfortable in the first half.

As strong as Newport’s defense was, NCC’s was even better in the first half. When shots weren’t falling for the Thoroughbreds, which was the case for most of the first half, they used their defense to create easy opportunities on offense.

Newport managed just two made field goals in the first half, heading to the locker room down by a score of 23-6. The paint was no place for the faint-hearted. Every inside shot for both teams was challenged, and every drive was met with physicality.

McDonald led the Thoroughbreds in scoring at the half with 11 points, but he was forced to work for each and every point.

Newport Central Catholic heated up from the field early in the second half, while Newport remained ice cold. Newport called a timeout at the 5:00 mark of the third quarter after an NCC block led to a run-out that put them up 31-6.

Newport junior center Kameron Covington picked up his fourth foul of the night with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, which left Newport short-handed inside.

Early in the fourth quarter, Zach Pangallo made a jumper, with a foul coming after the shot. Pangallo made both bonus free throws to put the Thoroughbreds up 47-16, and that was the end of the the night for NCC’s starters.

Pangallo and senior guard Grant Moeves held Newport’s talented backcourt of Snapp and Price to a combined 13 points on 4-29 shooting. Newport shot just 11% from the field for the game, including 0-14 from three-point range.

Despite their sub-par shooting performance early, NCC’s seniors were visibly insistent that no one put their head down, and that everyone work that much harder on defense.

“Our senior leadership is huge. I can tell those guys something we need to do, and they can go out and convey that message to the other guys,” said NCC head coach Ron Dawn. “Drew [McDonald] is great at that. He’ll see something that we might not see, or call out the other team’s play after they run it once. We have a lot of experienced and intelligent players.”

McDonald led New Cath offensively with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Junior forward Ben Weyer battled through a tough shooting night to finish with 10 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks.

The win is New Cath’s 17th in a row on the season, and their 7th consecutive District Championship. Their season record now stands at 28-3. The loss drops Newport’s season record to 14-16. Both teams will play in the 9th Region Tournament at The Bank of Kentucky Center next week. 

All-Tournament Team

Austin Woodyard - Bellevue

Noah Patton - Dayton

Parker Harris - Highlands

Paul Price - Newport

Ethan Snapp - Newport

Zach Pangallo - New Cath

Ben Weyer - New Cath

Drew McDonald - New Cath - Tournament MVP

- Story and photo by Alex Valentine, RCN contributor