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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Weyer third generation to play in state hoops tournament

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Newport Central Catholic senior Ben Weyer (44) celebrates the 9th Region crown with teammates Brian Anderson (11) and Eric Anderson (15). Weyer became the third generation in his family to play in the state tournament with the win.
Ben Weyer knows this story well.

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbred boys basketball team entered the season as the 9th Region favorites his freshman through junior years. But NewCath went just 1-3 in region play those seasons losing to Covington Holmes in the quarterfinals his freshman and junior seasons and to eventual state champion Cov Cath in the semifinals his sophomore year.

With the loss of several key players from those teams, two-time defending region champion Covington Catholic came into the season favored to win it again. But the Thoroughbreds reversed the roles and took down the Colonels, 52-47 to win that elusive first region championship since 2000.

"It is probably the biggest win of my career so far," Weyer said. "We hadn't beaten (the Colonels) in my high school career. It made me want to win so much more. It felt good to beat them the last time I see them."

Weyer also became the third generation in his family to play in the state tournament with that win.

Weyer scored 22 points and grabbed 12 victories in the victory. The Mr. Kentucky Basketball candidate averages a double-double of 21.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

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"I know how hard he has worked," said Ron Dawn, NewCath Head Coach. "Anytime he takes the court, he wants to give a good showing. I was happy for him."

Weyer's dad Joe played on two region championship Highlands teams coached by Ken Shields in 1986 and 1987. Joe Weyer started as a senior at the point guard spot on the 1987 team. The Bluebirds lost in the first round of the state tournament to Hazard (84-74) in 1986 and to Clay County (90-80) in 1987.

"It's obviously a dream for every kid to get to Rupp," Joe Weyer said. "It' not an easy task. Everybody wants to do it. Like I said when I played, once you get there, it's tough to win there. He can hopefully keep going. He'll pull out of the driveway the same time I do to go to work. Just the other day after they won, he went up to the gym before 7 (a.m.) to shoot before school. I used to tease him. I was there twice. The first thing he told me after the game was, 'You can't say that anymore, Dad. I'm going too."

Weyer's grandfather Jim helped Newport Catholic to the region championship in 1953. The Thoroughbreds made it to the state semifinals that year beating Mount Vernon (61-60) in overtime then Pikeville (78-58). NewCath lost to Lexington Lafayette (71-53) in the semifinals before losing to Caverna (66-61) in the third-place game. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association did away with the third-place game after the 1961 season.

"You just think about things like that," Jim Weyer said. "It's a pretty good generation of it. It was a nice celebration. It brings back old memories. Ben is far superior. His stats speak for themselves. He's had a great, great career."

Ben's older sister Maria, a 2012 Highlands alum, also had a great athletic career. She helped the Highlands Ladybird soccer team to the state tournament as a junior and four straight Class 2A state track and field championships between 2008 and 2011.

NewCath has several Fort Thomas residents on the team including Brian Anderson, Eric Anderson and Austin Neff.

NewCath (28-4) takes on 7th Region champion Louisville Trinity (29-6) to open the state tournament on Wednesday at Rupp Arena. Game time is 1:30 p.m. The Shamrocks are led by guards Jacob King, Gabriel Schmidt and Lucas Burkman averaging 14.2, 13.5 and 10.8 points per game respectively.

"It's going to be tough," Ben Weyer said. "They're similar to CovCath. They're a sound team. It is a winnable game. If we play the way we did against CovCath, they might have to worry about us. I hope we're the better team that day."

NewCath will counter with plenty of help around Ben Weyer, a Bellarmine University commit. Junior guard Luke Moeves and sophomore guard Brennan Hall average 11.9 and 11.6 points per game respectively.

The winner plays again Friday at Noon against either Murray or Buckhorn. The state semifinals take place Saturday and the title game is Sunday.

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