By Dave Malaska
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Fans expecting another double-overtime, high-scoring shootout between two of the area’s top teams may have left NKU’s Bank of Kentucky Arena disappointed, but those wanting to see two of the area’s top teams scrap for the right to keep playing on got a treat.
Holmes, avenging its 88-85, double-overtime loss to Newport Central Catholic two weeks ago, out-battled the Thoroughbreds on Tuesday to advance to the 9th Region semifinals. The Bulldogs won, 55-50, getting nine of their final 13 points from the free throw line.
“I told our guys it wasn’t going to be another 88-85 game,” Holmes coach Jason Booher said. “I just knew it was going to be a grind-it-out game in the 30’s or 40’s… maybe the 50’s. We knew going in we were going to have to slug it out.”
Neither team grabbed more than a one-possession lead in the first half, which finished with NewCath nursing a one-point lead, 19-18. Midway through the third quarter, though, the Bulldogs started to put some distance between them and the Thoroughbreds.
A 9-4 run, sparked by back-to-back baskets by James Bolden, gave Holmes a lead as its transition game picked up. Rashawn Coston hit a 3-pointer and Chris Englemon powered a rebound back while drawing the foul, then hit the free throw to give Holmes a five-point lead, and room for comfort.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs pushed their lead to double digits. NewCath made a late run, but Holmes' Quinton Chames dunked with 1:12 left, making it a 10-point game again. Holmes cruised from there.
“The difference in the game, really, was the second half. We got some transition going and got that little spurt, and that got us rolling,” said Booher. “That was a big key, those 3-4 minutes.”
Bolden finished with a game-high 22 for the Bulldogs, while Englemon did the grunt work, muscling his way to 15 rebounds and seven points. Coston and Daquan Palmer both finished with nine points.
The Thoroughbreds, hampered by early foul trouble, were led by Drew McDonald’s 19 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Michael Bueter finished with 12, most coming in the waning minutes. The senior sat most of the first half due to fouls.
And, unlike the Feb. 8 double-overtime thriller, in which all five NCC scorers were in double digits, no other Thoroughbreds broke into the column. Jake Schulte was the only one close, with nine.
HOLMES (29-2): Bolden 7 6 22, Coston 3 2 9, Palmer 1 6 9, Housley 0 2 2, Hill 1 0 2, Chames 2 0 4, Englemon 2 3 7. Totals 16 19 55.
NEWCATH (30-3): Pangallo 1 1 3, Bueter 4 0 12, Seibert 0 2 2, Schulte 3 3 9, McDonald 8 3 19, Weyer 2 0 5. Totals 18 9 50.
3-pointers: H—Bolden 2, Coston, Palmer. N—Bueter 4, Weyer.
COOPER 41, ST. HENRY 37 — The Jaguars survived a scare from the Crusaders in the later 9th Region quarterfinal, hitting free throws down the stretch to preserve their tournament hopes.
Cooper built a seven-point lead midway through the second quarter after a sluggish start. But St. Henry went on a run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Michael Best to give his team the 17-16 advantage into the half.
Cooper began to pull away again in the third quarter, but a late Nick Rechtin jumper tied the score at 25 heading into the fourth period.
Cooper pulled away again in the final frame, but the Crusaders didn’t have enough to come back again. Darius Meiman’s trey with 34 seconds left was as close as they would come again.
A.J. Collins led the Jaguars with 10 points, the majority coming from the charity stripe down the stretch. Zach McNeil chipped in with nine.
St. Henry got 10 points apiece from Best, Rechtin and Meiman. Neither team was hot from the field.
“It was ugly,” said Cooper coach Tim Sullivan. “It’s that time of year where you have to grind it out. We’re happy we won and got to advance, but this is Feb. 26. It shouldn’t be this way.”
The Jaguars will play Holmes at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for the regional crown.
“We’ve got three days to practice” to turn the team’s offensive woes around, Sullivan added. “And if it kills me, we’re going to do it.”
ST. HENRY 7-10-8-12—37
ST. HENRY (10-16): Best 4 0 10, Rechtin 5 0 10, Hils 0 2 2, Plummer 0 2 2, Kuebbing 1 0 3, Meiman 3 2 10. Totals 13 6 37.
COOPER (24-5): Morgan 2 2 6, Holland 1 0 2, McNeil 3 3 9, Collins 2 6 10, Hathorn 1 0 2, Maniacci 2 0 4, Shelton 2 4 8. Totals 13 15 41.
3-pointers: SH—Best 2, Meiman 2, Kuebbing.
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