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Late scoring run carries NewCath girls to victory in 9th Region All “A” Classic championship game

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Everyone in the gym could see that Newport Central Catholic coach Ralph Meyer Jr. wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in the opening minutes of the 9th Region All “A” Classic girls basketball championship game against St. Henry on Saturday at Lloyd High School.

After the Thoroughbreds committed turnovers on eight of their first 10 possessions, the coach called a timeout and started chewing out his players even before they made it to the bench.  

NewCath girls won the 9th Region All “A” Classic for the first time since 2016. (Photo from Twitter post)

The closing minutes of the game went much better for Meyer and his team. NewCath outscored St. Henry, 12-3, in the final 4:45 to come away with a 56-45 victory and claim the regional championship trophy for the first time since 2016.

“I thought our effort was big-time in the fourth quarter,” Meyer said. “Our kids just absolutely battled the last 16 minutes, really, and obviously Rylee Turner was just fantastic tonight.”

Turner, a 5-foot-9 sophomore guard, scored a season-high 27 points with 13 rebounds, seven steals and six assists for the Thoroughbreds.

During the game-ending 12-3 run, she made two steals, got the assist on her team’s one field goal and went 3-for-4 from the line.

“I just came in and really wanted to win,” said Turner, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. “We stepped it up in our practices to improve throughout the season to get to where we are now.”

After getting off to a 3-7 this season, NewCath has won seven straight games with the last four coming in six days during the regional tournament. The team’s shaky start in Saturday’s championship game took the coach by surprise.

“We looked a little nervous in the beginning,” Meyer said. “A lot of that had to do with (St. Henry) being really effective with their defensive pressure and we were a little sloppy against it.”

The score was tied seven times during the first half.  In the final seconds, Turner hit a jumper from the wing to make it 26-26 at the break. 

Ralph Meyer

In the third quarter, Turner buried a 3-pointer to give NewCath a 33-28 lead. But the Crusaders responded with a 10-3 run to go on top 38-36 entering the final period.

After the Thoroughbreds ran off six straight points, St. Henry cut it to 44-42 on a pair of free throws by senior forward Katherine Evans with 4:57 left on the clock. But the Crusaders did not score for the next four minutes and NewCath was able to pull away.

“We just had a hard time finishing,” said St. Henry coach Todd Smart. “Their length really got to us. We tried to practice for that all week. They just did a really good job.”

St. Henry’s leading scorers were freshman guard Amanda Schlueter with 15 points and junior forward Morgan Flanagan with 14. They scored 17 of their team’s 19 points in the second half.

The Thoroughbreds finished with a 18-11 scoring advantage at the free throw line, but they missed 15 of their foul shots, including nine in the fourth quarter. That’s one thing they need to work on before the Kentucky All “A” Classic state tournament begins in two weeks.

NewCath will play 8th Region champion Walton-Verona in the first round of the small-school state tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22 at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

None of the NewCath players have been in a state tournament before, but coach Meyer said the team played several teams from around the state earlier this season, including a holiday tournament in Bowling Green.

“It’s going to be a challenge to go down there and play a quality ball club in Walton-Verona right away,” Meyer said. “It’ll be a fantastic experience for our kids and I’m so proud of them for getting there. I hope that tournament we played in earlier will prepare them to be able to compete.”

NEWCATH    11  15  10  20 – 56
ST. HENRY   11  15  12    7 – 45

NEWCATH (10-7): Heck 0 8 8, McCloskey 4 0 8, Turner 9 8 27, Grause 3 0 9, Murphy 0 2 2, Robriquez 0 2 2. Totals: 17 18 56.

ST. HENRY (11-4): McNamara 1 0 2, Evans 0 3 3, Schlueter 6 2 15, Ives 1 2 4, Flanagan 5 4 14, Millay 3 0 7. Totals: 16 11 45.

3-pointers:  NC – Grause 3, Turner. SH – Schlueter, Millay. 


NewCath – Rylee Turner (MVP), Madison McCloskey, Annie Heck. St. Henry – Morgan Flanagan, Abby Millay. Holy Cross – Grace Bezold. Beechwood – Carlie Arlinghaus. Bellevue – Kierstyn Ratterman. Newport – Elexis Litton. Ludlow – Abby Mahan. Villa Madonna – Lizzie Thomas. Dayton – Johnessa Barbiea. Lloyd – Jayla LaBordeaux.

All “A” Classic regional tournaments

Villa Madonna vs. Newport Central Catholic, 6 p.m.
Beechwood vs. Ludlow, 7:45 p.m.
Bellevue vs. Villa Madonna-Newport Central Catholic winner, 6 p.m.
Holy Cross vs. St. Henry, 7:45 p.m.
Dayton vs. Beechwood-Ludlow winner, 6 p.m.
Newport vs. Lloyd, 7:45 p.m.
Semifinal games, 6 and 7:45 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.

Nicholas County winner vs. Robertson County, 7:45 p.m.
Brossart vs. Paris, 7:45 p.m.
Championship game, 7:45 p.m.

Nicholas County vs. Robertson County, 6 p.m.
Brossart vs. Paris, 6 p.m.
Championship game, 6 p.m.

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