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Holy Cross girls ‘steal’ their way into second straight All ‘A’ Championship finals, will face Pikeville

By Dan Weber
NKyTribune sports reporter

CORBIN – The large and loud student-led Nicholas County cheering section had one chant they really liked early on in their Girls’ All “A” Classic semifinals Saturday at the Corbin Arena.

Holy Cross; Miyah Wimzle doing a postgame radio interview. (Bob Jackson/NKyTribune photo)

“You can’t do that,” they screamed at every foul Holy Cross committed.

Turns out, the Indians from Covington could. They could do this. They could do that. They could do pretty much whatever they wanted in a 67-30 romp over the 10th Region champ Lady Jackets.

And what they did especially well was taking the basketball away from an overmatched, out-athleted Nicholas County (14-6) team. The Indians stole the ball 24 times, turned Nicholas County over 29 times. Allowed them just 36 shots to Holy Cross’ 70.

“Possessions, that’s what we talk about,” Holy Cross Coach Ted Arlinghaus said of the basic philosophy of the Indians’ “Mad Dog” defense. But with a bit of a different twist at times.

Like simply taking the ball away from whichever Nicholas County offensive player had it. Not by punching it loose or knocking it away or deflecting it in the passing lane. Just grabbing it with both hands and saying “that’s mine.”

Holy Cross’ Aumani Nelson goes with the left hand for two of her 10 shots (Bob Jackson/NKyTribune photo)

Fifteen times Holy Cross did it in a 41-15 first half that saw them take care of the ball whether Nicholas County had it as well as when it was in the Indians’ possession, which was often the same thing. The second half was more of the same. Holy Cross took care of the ball as well when it was in their possession or the Lady Jackets’, although often not for long.

Seniors Miyah Wimzie and Aaliyah Hayes each had five steals to lead the Indians. Wimzie, grand-daughter of Holmes basketball great John Wimzie, said “it was easy. We have long arms” out front and behind them, they have long-armed senior Julia Hunt, an all-state volleyball player headed to the University of Washington, backing them up when they take chances.

“She gets a lot of blocks,” Wimzie said, as Hunt did with four of her five in the first quarter alone. Put the two together and “that’s our game,” Wimzie said.

Holy Cross’ Julia Hunt scores over a pair of Nicholas County Defenders, (Bob Jackson/NKyTribune photo)

“I usually back up into the paint,” Hunt said, combing her reach and her jumping ability into the final line of defense. Although it wasn’t much needed Saturday with the 24 steals that led to 31 field goals on 70 attempts. Nicholas County, meanwhile, had barely half as many field goal attempts.

One other strength for the Indians: balance. They have just one player – Hunt at 13.2 points a game – averaging in double figures for the season. Her 14 points was right out of the HC playbook. Only Aumani Nelson, with 10, also reached double figures.

But six other Indians scored between five and eight points with Hayes, Wimzie and D’Miyah Williams all scoring eight.

One scoring oddity in this one: Holy Cross didn’t make a single free throw. The Indians attempted just one. But with 34 more shots from the field than Nicholas County attempted, they didn’t need any.

“They want to make their mark,” Arlinghaus said of his three senior starters who went all the way to an All “A” Classic championship a year ago and clearly have been aiming at a repeat this entire season. But doing so by walking a fine line between “one-game-at-a-time” and repeating in style.

Miyah Wimzier attemtps the long free throw for Holy Cross. (Photo by Bob Jackson/NKyTribune)

That they’re 7-0 in back-to-back state finals tournaments says they’ve figured it out. One way they’ve prepared themselves for this four-games-in-five-days by “scheduling for it,” Arlinghaus said. They’ve played in both four- and three-day out-of-town tournaments already so hanging out in Corbin for five days was something they were ready for.

“Although it’s still a bit of a culture shock,” Arlinghaus said of having a day off in Corbin, which bills itself as “a sprawling city of 7,000 across two counties,” meaning “you have to drive everywhere,” Arlinghaus said. “You can’t just walk across the street.”

It’s 165 miles or so from Latonia to the 15-year-old, $28 million Corbin Arena that seats upward of 5,000 for basketball with nothing but good seats and sightlines — even outside as it sits atop a mountain above I-75.

Holy Cross will face Pikeville (16-2), 59-52 winner in the second semifinal game against Owensboro Catholic Saturday. Game time is noon. Plenty of good seats available.


HOLY CROSS 17 24 19 7–67


HOLY CROSS (18-5): L. Hunt 0-1 0-1 0-0 0, J. Hunt 7-12 0-0 0-0 14, A. Arlinghaus 2-4 1-3 0-0 5, Hodge 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, P. Arlinghaus 2-3 1-1 0-0 5, Sturgeon 0-2 0-2 0-0 0, Hayes 4-10 0-1 0-0 8, Nelson 4-8 2-4 0-0 10, Hill 1-3 0-0 0-0 2, Rhodes 0-4 0-3 0-0 0, Wimzie 4-7 0-0 0-1 8, Carter 3-7 1-2 0-0 7, Klaiss 0-2 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 4-5 0-0 0-0 8; TOTALS: 31-70 5-18 0-1 67.
NICHOLAS COUNTY (14-6): Carpenter 1-2 0-1 0-3 2, Simons 2-9 0-0 1-4 5, Banks 2-5 0-0 0-0 4, Felts 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 2-7 1-2 1-2 6, Switzer 0-2 0-2 0-0 0, Humphries 6-10 0-1 1-2 13; TOTALS: 13-36 1-6 3-11 30.

Contact Dan Weber at dweber3440@aol.com. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @dweber3440.

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