By Dave Malaska
COVINGTON, Ky. — Nick Ruthsatz hit a shot every kid grows up dreaming of — a 3-pointer from beyond half court at the buzzer — to lift Covington Catholic over Holmes, 73-72, in Friday night's 35th District title game.
The game, which CovCath led through most of the first half, became a nip-tuck affair midway through the third quarter after Holmes' B.J. Coston tied the game with a 3-pointer at the 6:21 mark.
Neither team was able to pull away the rest of the way. The Bulldogs grabbed a late lead, 66-65, on free throws by Coston and James Bolden, then went up by three on a Bolden bucket with less than two minutes remaining.
Nick Fredrick tied the score at 70 with a 3-pointer for CovCath at 1:07, setting the stage for a wild finish. The Colonels fouled Coston with 11 seconds left and he hit both free throws to put Holmes up, 72-70.
After fouling CovCath a few times on the inbounds, the Colonels were down to 2.2 seconds on the clock and Ruthsatz's heave.
"I knew I didn't have much time," the junior said. "Maybe one dribble, maybe two to get a little closer. We do drills on that. I thought it looked good when I shot it, and it looked great when it went in."
"That's something I'll relive for a while," he added.
CovCath coach Scott Ruthsatz, hoarse after the game, said he was screaming for his team to set a screen to give the ball handler some space.
"Nick got it in the middle — that's where good things happen — and he got a great look," he croaked.
The Colonels had led by as many as 15 early in the third quarter before Holmes stormed back, led by Daquan Palmer. The senior scored 11 of his team-high 21 points in the period, including three treys, to get the Bulldogs back into the game.
"We told the kids they would make their run. It's their gym and they weren't just going to lay down. We just had to weather it," Ruthsatz said.
Bolden added 19 for Holmes, while Coston chipped in 13. Ruthsatz led all scorers with 29 points. Fredrick was the only other Colonel in double figures, with 10.
Holmes coach Jason Booher was proud of his team for clawing their way back into the game, but disappointed at the way the Bulldogs came out.
"The bottom line is, we didn't play all 32 minutes," he said. "We came out timid, like we were playing not to lose."
"But I am proud that they didn't give up when we got down. We've lost two games this year — one in double overtime and one with a half court shot at the buzzer. That's nothing to hang your head over. We just need to go back to work so that's not what we're left with this year," he added.
at HOLMES 18-12-20-22—72
COVCATH (25-6): Fredrick 3 2 10, Schuh 2 1 6, Pauly 3 2 8, Wichmann 3 1 7, Ruthsatz 11 2 29, Heppler 2 0 5, Tobler 4 0 8. Totals 28 8 73.
HOLMES (28-2): Bolden 6 4 19, Coston 3 4 13, Palmer 7 3 21, Housley 1 0 2, Chames 5 3 13, Englemon 1 2 4. Totals 23 16 72.
3-pointers: C—Ruthsatz 5, Fredrick 2, Schuh, Heppler. H—Palmer 4, Bolden 3, Coston 3.
Notes: Ruthsatz was named the tournament MVP after the game. Joining him on the all-district team were teammates Bo Schuh and Sawyer Pauly, and Holmes' Palmer and Bolden. Mitchell Blewett from Covington Latin, Antonio Campbell and Markel McClendon from Holy Cross, and Beechwood's Chase Maus and Brandon Marksbery filled out the rest of the team.
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