|G. Michael Graham Photo. Newport Central Catholic guard Zack Pangallo (12) makes a move in Wednesday's 9th Region quarterfinal contest against St. Henry. Pangallo scored 22 points in the 71-45 Thoroughbred win.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – They have accomplished many goals this year.
But the state-ranked Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds boys basketball team (29-3) has made it clear it is hungrier for more. They took another step toward one of those goals with a 71-45 win over the 34th District runner-up St. Henry Crusaders (14-11) on Wednesday at the Bank of Kentucky Center on the Northern Kentucky University campus. The Thoroughbreds own 22 consecutive wins.
Next up is the long-anticipated 9th Region semifinal battle with Covington Catholic (26-2). The game takes place at Noon on Sunday. CovCath beat Ryle, 74-40 in the earlier game Wednesday.
There may have been some concern the Thoroughbreds would look ahead to that game. But they took care of business.
The teams played until halftime on Jan. 10 before the game was called because of condensation on CovCath’s court. The Colonels led 32-27 at that point. They lost just once in the regular season before Covington Holmes got them in the 35th District title game, 72-62 in overtime Saturday.
NewCath also beat St. Henry, 83-67 in the All “A” 9th Region semifinals on Jan. 24 at Dayton. The Thoroughbreds have won consecutive All “A” State crowns and their eighth straight 36th District championship since then.
NewCath had another great inside-outside attack to make a long night for St. Henry. The Thoroughbreds made 27-of-47 shots for 57 percent including eight three pointers to go with 9-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line for 90 percent.
“That’s the way we play,” said Ron Dawn, NewCath Head Coach. “We don’t have one guy we go to down the floor. We take what they give us. We’re at our best when we’re sharing the ball with each other. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do that most of the year.”
The five Thoroughbred starters scored at least seven points. Zack Pangallo made four three-pointers on his way to 22 points. Drew McDonald and Jake Schulte followed with double-doubles of 15 points and 11 rebounds each. Ben Weyer followed with nine and Tanner Moeves had seven.
“It’s a good thing,” Pangallo said. “We have many guys who can score. We know if someone’s not playing well, we have trust in other teammates to score and put the ball in the basket.”
The Thoroughbreds won the rebounding battle, 33-26 and held the Crusaders to 28 percent (16-of-57) from the field with seven three-pointers. St. Henry made 6-of-7 free throws for 86 percent.
NewCath distributed the ball with 20 assists to 12 for St. Henry. Pangallo led the Thoroughbreds with seven assists.
The Crusaders saw 11 different players score. But only one made double-figures in Jordan Noble with 11.
NewCath grabbed the lead in the first quarter with a 9-0 run and never looked back. Pangallo started it with a jumper and finished it with a three-pointer from the right wing.
The Thoroughbreds led 17-10 after the first quarter and used a 5-0 run to end the second quarter and build a 34-19 halftime cushion. Pangallo finished that run with another three-pointer.
NewCath ended any St. Henry comeback hopes in the third quarter. The Thoroughbreds made three triples to start the half and build a 43-19 lead. Their biggest lead of the quarter was 27 points twice. The second one came with 2:11 remaining on a Weyer dunk. NewCath led 58-32 entering the fourth quarter.
“We got really good looks on those threes,” Dawn said. “We’re a good shooting team. When we take quick threes with a hand in our faces and we rush things, our percentage goes way down.”
NewCath continued to build the lead in the fourth quarter. It ballooned to 31 points at 71-40 after Mac Franzen made a three-pointer with 1:35 left in the game.
The other semifinal contest takes place Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The championship game takes place Monday at 7 p.m.