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CovCath shoots 73 percent during second-half scoring binge to upset top-ranked Newport, 73-63

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Saying the Covington Catholic boys basketball team played a strong second half during its 73-63 win over Newport on Saturday would be an understatement.

In the final two quarters, the Colonels shot a blazing 73.9 percent (17 of 23) from the field with 12 assists and played zone defense so well that Newport made just 39.4 percent (13 of 33) on its home court in the final game of the John Turner Classic.

CovCath center Caden Miller tries to avoid a block attempt by James Turner of Newport under the basket. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

The game drew a capacity crowd because Newport was No. 1 and CovCath was No. 3 in the Northern Kentucky preseason coaches poll so the final score was a bit surprising.

“They hit some tough shots and then they attacked us and went right at us,” Newport coach Rod Snapp said of the Colonels’ 44-34 scoring advantage in the second half. “They played a lot harder than us. They were a lot mentally tougher than us.”

It was the first loss in five games for Newport, last season’s 9th Region champion. CovCath lifted its record to 4-1 with the only loss coming to Great Crossing, the state’s top-ranked team.

“We needed this,” said CovCath senior guard Brady Hussey. “It’s a big win for us, playing at that top level again after coming off the Great Crossing loss. It was a regional statement game, so it felt good.”

There were five lead changes in the first half that ended in a 29-29 tie. CovCath’s 6-foot-9 senior center Caden Miller got into early foul trouble and played less than seven of the first 16 minutes.

Miller’s replacement was sophomore Donovan Bradshaw, a football player who started practicing with the team last Sunday. He made all four of his field goal attempts and snagged two rebounds to help keep the score close.

The Colonels opened the second half with an 13-7 run that included two field goals, one assist and four blocked shots by Miller. CovCath had a 52-44 lead at the end of that period with 19 of its 23 points coming from guards Hussey, Athens McGillis, Cash Harney and Nolan Ruthsatz, who received the game’s Outstanding Player Award.

CovCath guard Brady Hussey drives to the basket with Newport guard DeShaun Jackson closing in behind him. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

“The guard play was really good,” Hussey said. “We didn’t have many turnovers and stayed under control and took care of business.”

In the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, the Colonels pushed their lead to 63-47 by limiting Newport to one field goal and one free throw. The zone defense worked so well after Miller went to the bench in the first half that CovCath coach Scott Ruthsatz decided to stay with it.

“Going into the game, we planned on doing all man-to-man and we tried the (zone) and it started working out,” Hussey said. “We were locating their players who could shoot and found a way to win with that.”

Newport ran off eight straight points to close the margin to 63-55, but the Colonels pulled away at the end. Miller got five of his team’s last 10 points to finish with a 15-point total.

CovCath’s other double-figure scorers were Hussey (15), McGillis (14), Ruthsatz (11) and Harney (10).

Those four guards together ended up shooting 55.8 percent (19 of 34) from the field overall and 57.1 percent (8 of 14) from behind the 3-point arc. Ruthsatz also had a team-high six rebounds while McGillis and Harney each had six assists.

“That’s solid,” coach Ruthsatz said of the backcourt foursome’s scoring total. “If you can find (an opponent) that doesn’t have that many guards, you can spread it out and somebody’s going to be open. And then you’re hoping they’re going to hit that shot. If they do great, they stay in the game. If they don’t, we’ve got other guys on the bench that can hit shots.”

Newport had four double-figure scorers led by sophomore guard Taylen Kinney with 18 points and sophomore center James Turner with 15. The other two were senior guards Jabari Covington (14) and DeShaun Jackson (11), who also had a game-high seven rebounds.

Newport ended up shooting 40 percent (22 of 55) for the game compared to CovCath’s 60.4 percent (29 of 48). In Snapp’s 14 seasons as head coach, the Wildcats have an 0-10 record against the Colonels.

COVCATH    12  17  23  21 — 73
NEWPORT   15  14  15  19 — 63

NEWPORT (4-1): Kinney 5 7 18, Anderson 1 0 2, Covington 4 0 11, Jackson 5 2 14, Turner 6 2 15, Silverton 1 1 3. Totals: 22 12 63.
COVCATH (4-1): McGillis 5 3 14, Harney 4 1 10, Miller 6 3 15, Bradshaw 4 0 8, Hussey 6 0 15, Ruthsatz 4 0 11. Totals: 29 7 73.

Three-point goals: CC — Hussey 3, Ruthsatz 3, McGillis, Harney. N — Covington 3, Jackson 2, Kinney, Turner.

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