By Terry Boehmker
After losing two of its last four regular-season games, the Covington Catholic boys’ basketball team wanted to make a statement in a 35th District semifinal showdown against Holy Cross on Wednesday at Holmes High School.
“We just had to say, ‘You know what, this is our game,’” said CovCath sophomore forward Bo Schuh. “We want to make it to the regional. We want to win district. So let’s just come out strong and punch them in the nose.”
The Colonels did that by making nine of their first 12 field goal attempts to take a 23-14 lead and went on to post a 69-57 victory over the Indians.
CovCath (24-6) will play Holmes (28-1) in the district final at 7 p.m. Friday with both teams advancing to next week’s 9th Region Tournament at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
Schuh scored a season-high 22 points to lead CovCath to the win. The Colonels’ other double-figure scorers were senior forward Sawyer Pauly and junior point guard Nick Ruthsatz with 16 points each.
Schuh also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and Ruthsatz had five assists.
“When Nick Ruthsatz is passing the ball a lot, it gets the whole team involved and everybody was just knocking down shots,” Pauly said.
During their team’s fast start in the first quarter, Pauly scored eight points, Schuh made a pair of 3-pointers and Ruthsatz also buried a trey.
Holy Cross made a steady comeback and tied the score, 33-33, on a jumper by senior Christian McClendon late in the second quarter. But CovCath got baskets on its next two possessions to take a 37-33 halftime lead.
At the break, the Colonels were shooting 64 percent (16 of 25) from the field compared to the Indians’ 47.8 percent (11 of 23).
“I felt pretty good at halftime only being down four with the way (CovCath) shot the ball in the first half,” said Holy Cross coach Erik Goetz. “We could just never get over the hump and take control of the game. It seemed like every time we’d make a charge they’d make a shot and push (the lead) back out.”
The same thing happened in the second half. After Holy Cross scored six straight points to pull within 47-46, CovCath went on a 15-4 run to open up a 62-50 lead with less than three minutes left on the clock.
“We knew Holy Cross was going to make a run. There was no doubt about it,” Schuh said. “We just had to sustain it and play our game and keep going.”
The Colonels maintained a double-digit margin by making seven of nine free throws during the final two minutes of the game. Schuh sank four of those foul shots to cap off his best game of the season.
CovCath ended up shooting 56 percent (28 of 50) from the field while Holy Cross shot 43.2 percent (19 of 44).
The Indians’ leading scorer was 6-foot-8 senior center Antonio Campbell with 15 points, but he was 5-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over seven times.
Whenever Campbell got the ball inside, CovCath defenders crowded around him and made it hard to put up a shot.
“We knew they didn’t have many perimeter shooters so we took our chances with (not guarding) them instead of letting Campbell get easy layups inside,” Pauly said.
Campbell did pull down a game-high 15 rebounds and blocked seven shots. He was also credited with four assists in his final high school game.
COVCATH 23-14-10-22 – 69
H. CROSS 14-19-11-13 – 57
COVCATH (24-6): Fredrick 3 0 7, Schuh 8 4 22, Pauly 8 0 16, Ruthsatz 6 3 16, Tobler 3 2 8. Totals: 28 9 69.
HOLY CROSS (16-12): Pouncy 3 0 8, Tiberi 3 1 10, Gabbard 1 1 3, M. McClendon 3 3 9, C. McClendon 4 4 12, Campbell 5 4 15. Totals: 19 12 57.
3-pointers: CC–Schuh 2, Fredrick, Ruthsatz. HC–Tiberi 3, Pouncy 2, Gabbard, Campbell.
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