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Wildcat fever overtakes Newport as city rallys behind Newport High School basketball team for Sweet 16

The City of Newport has Wildcat fever.
From the Ohio River to the hill neighborhoods in south, from the East Row to the Westside, all of Newport is rallying behind the Newport High School boys varsity basketball team as the Wildcats prepare for Thursday’s 1:30 p.m. game against Lyon County in the Boys Basketball Sweet 16 state championship tournament at Lexington’s storied Rupp Arena.
“It’s an exciting time for the coaches, team, school district and the community,” said Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Tony Watts, who played college basketball at Mississippi State and is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.
With its win over Cooper High School last week, Newport claimed its first Ninth Region Championship in 13 years.

“We are really proud of the team and wish them the best of luck,” said Newport City Manager Tom Fromme, a 1974 Newport High School graduate. “The team has represented the city extremely well. It’s exciting for the whole city.”
Prior to Thursday’s game, Head Coach Rod Snapp and his Ninth Region Champion Wildcats will have sendoff through the schools and streets of Newport.
Starting about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, the team will visit students at Newport Intermediate School and Newport Primary School before heading down Monmouth Street in the team bus about 9:15 a.m.
“The team will be going down Monmouth Street before heading out for Rupp Arena, and we would love to see people lining the streets to show their support for the team,” Superintendent Watts said.
The community showed tremendous support for the team and the school prior to the March 7th Ninth Region Championship game.
When they learned the Wildcats would be playing in the regional championship game in Truist Arena at Northern Kentucky University, Newport Assistant City Manager John Hayden, a 1999 Newport High School graduate, and Newport Board of Education member Aaron Sutherland led an effort to purchase tickets to the game for Newport students.

City and school officials, business owners, members of the community, parents of Newport students and others contributed nearly $1,000, which provided tickets for 120 students.

“People really stepped up to get behind the team,” Sutherland said. “It really just started with a group chat, and before you know it we raised enough for 120 tickets. This was a big deal for the students and the community. We really wanted a robust student section for the game, and thanks to everyone who gave money, that’s just what we had.”
Those who attended the game said there was no doubt the student section made a difference.
“We had a bigger crowd than Cooper,” Hayden said. “To have the crowd cheering for the team was so exciting for the boys. It’s great to see the community get behind the team like this, especially when there is so much negativity in today’s world. Now, we just need to get our fans to Rupp Arena on Thursday.”
“I want to give a shout out to everyone who made a donation for the student tickets,” said Superintendent Watts. “The students really appreciated it.”
Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli Jr. is throwing his support behind the team through a friendly wager on the game with the mayor of Eddyville, the county seat of Lyon County.
“Since the Bourbon Trail starts here in Newport, I’ve offered to bet a bottle of New Riff Bourbon along with items from some of our tremendous shops and restaurants – Sweet Tooth Premium Candies & Ice Cream, Pompilio’s and Dixie Chili. I don’t know how he is going to top that!” 

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