Cole VonHandorf leads a CovCath fast break during their semifinal game with Owensboro in the Boys Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena in Lexington Saturday, March 21.
LEXINGTON – Covington Catholic won the 2014 state title at the KHSAA Sweet 16 in an overtime thriller.
Saturday night’s first semifinal went to extra time after a last-second regulation 3-pointer by Matthew Shumate tied the game at 55 against the Owensboro Red Devils.
The Colonels couldn’t recapture their OT magic from last year, however, falling to Owensboro 69-65 in a state semifinal game at Rupp Arena. The Colonels were unable to become the first team to repeat as state champion since the 1990-91 team from Fairdale, who was honored this week as part of the KHSAA effort to recognize 25th-anniversary champions.
“I don’t think after last year anybody thought we would be here,” said Cov Cath head coach Scott Ruthsatz. “We’re here with discipline and unselfishness and a great attitude. These seniors really helped me in my four years here. Probably one of the most winningest senior classes in Covington Catholic history: 27-7, 33-2 and now 31-6. That’s a lot of wins. These guys are warriors. I’m so proud to be able to coach these guys. It will be sad to see them go. They’re my guys. Any way I can help them down the road, contacts, getting them jobs, they’re my guys.”
Cole VonHandorf led CCH with 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting and made three 3-pointers. Senior Bo Schuh scored 15 points and senior guard Cooper Theobald had 14. Justin Miller led Owensboro with 18 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 8-of-12 form the floor. The Red Devils out-rebounded the Colonels 28-21 for the game. Guard Darion Morrow had 18 for O’boro.
O’boro shot 57 percent for the game (25-44) and Cov Cath was 22-49 for 45 percent.
Owensboro took a 60-59 lead with 2:25 to go in the first overtime on a basket by Miller, the Red Devils’ 6-foot-7, 246-pound linebacker-sized center. A tough drive by Darion Morrow combined with a Colonel foul became a three-point play and a 63-59 lead for the Red Devils.
Theobald came right back with a tough shot in the lane to cut the deficit to 63-61. The Colonels deflected a pass into the lane, but couldn’t corral the ball as Owenboro’s 6-foot-9 forward Aric Holman won the battle for the loose ball and dunked it to put O’boro up 65-61.
VonHandorf scored a tough layup over Holman to make it 65-63, then after the teams exchanged turnovers, Morrow made one of two free throws to put the Colonels down three at 66-63.
With 20 seconds to go, Theobald drove to the hoop but was blocked by Holman, and the Colonels retained possession after a held ball was called following a scramble on the floor. CCH inbounded, but the Colonels committed a turnover.
Jacoby Harris went to the line with 14.4 seconds to play. He made both free throws to ice the game. Theobald’s 3-pointer missed and Holman rebounded with eight seconds to play.
A pair of free throws by VonHandorf and Theobald gave the Colonels a 59-58 lead.
Cov Cath led 30-24 at the half. After being out-rebounded 11-2 early in the game, the Colonels clawed back to get seven straight boards.
Cov Cath led 9-2 early in the game on a pair of jumpers by Schuh, one by Theobald and a three from VonHandorf. Owensboro sprinted back for a 13-2 run and led 15-11 after one period. The Colonels controlled the second quarter with a 19-9 run and led by six at the half.
A tough baseline left-handed drive by Schuh gave Cov Cath a nine-point lead late in the third quarter, but Morrow responded with a 3-pointer, and the lead remained at six entering the fourth.
A mid-range jumper from Schuh early in the fourth pushed the lead back to nine at 46-37. The Red Devils went on a 10-3 run before a jumper from VonHandorf put Cov Cath back up by four at 51-47. Morrow answered with another trey and it was 51-50.
“Morrow was huge,” Ruthsatz said. “He was 3-of-6 from three and all of them came at huge moments.”
With 1:06 to go, Jacoby Harris gave the Red Devils the lead with a three-point play after being fouled. After the Colonels got a free throw, Dylan Sanford hit two free throws to make it 55-52 with 14 seconds to go, setting up Shumate’s tying three.
“When Matt hit that three, I thought it was ours,” VonHandorf said. “It will be more motivation in the long run. I’m proud of how this team fought. We weren’t expected to be here so I’m proud of what we’ve done.”
Schuh is one of three senior starters with Theobald and Romes, with Shumate coming off the bench.
“It was one of those nights where stuff doesn’t go your way,” Schuh said. “We left everything on the floor, there’s nothing else we could have done. Everyone played their hearts out. I’m so proud of everyone of this team even though it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.”
The Colonels finished 31-6 with three new starters from last year.
“These guys don’t back down from anybody,” Ruthsatz said. “We fight as well as we can. This is life lessons. You work so hard and sometimes things don’t go your way. The seniors, we’ll have celebrations and get you on with the rest of your life. The guys returning, it’s lessons learned and we move forward. We’ve got a nice group of kids.”
Covington Catholic: Schuh 6 3 15, Romes 1 0 2, VonHandorf 6 6 21, Flood 2 0 5, Theobald 5 4 14, Shumate 2 0 6, Heppler 0 2 2.
Owensboro: Sanford 2 2 8, Holman 5 1 11, Miller 8 2 18, Morrow 6 3 18, Harris 4 5 14.