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St. Henry prevails in another wild finish to claim first 9th Region All “A” Classic boys title since 2008

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

A steady stream of friends, fans and former players congratulated St. Henry coach Dave Faust after his team’s 49-46 victory over Beechwood in the championship game of the 9th Region All “A” Classic boys basketball tournament on Saturday.

As he shook hands and exchanged hugs, Faust enjoyed watching his players cut down the nets and pose for photos with the first regional championship trophy the team has won since 2008.

St. Henry players celebrate their team’s first regional championship since 2008. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

“I’m just happy for those kids, just seeing their smiles. That’s what it’s all about,” the veteran coach said with a wistful look in his eyes.

The regional title didn’t come easily for the Crusaders. They needed a late rally to win their semifinal game in the final seconds on Friday and there was a wild finish in the championship game as well.

St. Henry had a one-point lead, 47-46, when Beechwood called a time out with 30 seconds remaining to set up a play. The ball went to junior guard Scotty Draud on the low post, but his shot against two defenders came up short.

St. Henry junior guard Wyatt Vieth got the rebound and was quickly fouled with 11 seconds left on the clock. After he made both free throws to give his team a 49-46 lead, Beechwood called a time out once again.

On the ensuing inbounds play, St. Henry junior forward Jude Bessler made a steal, but he missed a driving layup. Beechwood guard Will Downton frantically dribbled the ball up court and got off a 3-point shot, but the ball kicked off the back of the rim as the final horn sounded.

“When things get tough, we grind it out,” Vieth said. “In practice, we always work on those situations and what we need to do so we’re really prepared for it. And now this team is going to make a run down state.”

Wyatt Vieth of St. Henry slips between two defenders to put up a shot. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

St. Henry (12-3) advances to next week’s Kentucky All “A” Classic state tournament and plays 5th Region champion Campbellsville (8-9) in the final first-round game at 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena in Richmond.

Vieth expects the Crusaders to be contenders for the small-school state title because “our team chemistry is at an all-time high right now.”

That was evident in the last two regional tournament games when St. Henry got 24 and 22 points from players off the bench and pulled out close victories.

“The way we play together defense comes first and we let whoever’s hot score,” Bessler said. “It’s just a team effort all the way around.”

In the first half of the regional championship game, St. Henry had seven players in the scoring column and opened up a 33-22 lead.

At the break, the Crusaders were shooting 50 percent (13 of 26) from the field with six 3-point goals compared to Beechwood’s 32 percent (8 of 25) with two treys.

The Tigers got back into the game with a 13-5 scoring run in the third quarter that trimmed St. Henry’s lead to 38-35. Draud scored six of his game-high 28 points during that rally, but he missed both of his free throw attempts and continued to have trouble at the line.

Beechwood guard Will Downton tries to block a driving layup by St. Henry guard Alex Daniel. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

In the fourth quarter, Draud had eight of his team’s 11 points. He made field goals that gave the Tigers a one-point lead twice, but he was 2-for-7 at the line in the final eight minutes and ended up 5-for-13 in the game.

“We didn’t get to the foul line and played around with the ball too much,” Faust said of his team being outscored 24-16 in the second half. “But we ended up a winner and you can’t complain about that.”

Both teams ended up shooting 40 percent from the field. St. Henry finished with a 24-12 scoring advantage from behind the 3-point line with six of the eight treys provided by players off the bench.

St. Henry’s top scorer was Vieth, who posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Bessler was named the tournament’s most valuable player after getting two points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in the title game.

“We expected it,” Bessler said of Beechwood’s second-half rally. “We’ve been down just like them and came back and won. We knew they were going to come out with that same mentality. They had us, but we just kept pushing and that’s what got us the win.”

Three players did all of the scoring for Beechwood. Draud had 28 points, followed by Downton with 11 and Mitchell Rylee with seven. Rylee also had a game-high 13 rebounds for the Tigers.

ST. HENRY       15  18   5  11 — 49
BEECHWOOD  13   9  13  11 — 46

ST. HENRY (12-3): Connor Shea 2 0 5, Corey Shea 1 0 3, Daniel 3 0 7, Vieth 5 3 13, Bessler 1 0 2, Butler 3 0 9, Teeten 2 0 4, Ravenscraft 2 0 6. Totals: 19 3 49.

BEECHWOOD (13-7): Draud 11 5 28, Downton 4 0 11, Rylee 3 1 7. Totals: 18 6 46.

3-pointers: SH — Butler 3, Ravenscraft 2, Conner Shea, Corey Shea, Daniel. B — Downton 3, Draud.

St. Henry — Jude Bessler (MVP), Wyatt Vieth, Ryan Butler. Beechwood — Scotty Draud, Will Downton. NewCath — Cody Muller. Lloyd — Tyrees Davis. Newport — Kaleel Davis. Holy Cross — Jeremiah Hicks. Ludlow — Ian Vallandingham. Villa Madonna — James Thole. Bellevue — Derek Leedy.

(at EKU McBrayer Arena in Richmond)
Thursday — Upper bracket
Owensboro Catholic vs. West Carter, 8:30 a.m.
Brossart vs. Frankfort, 10 a.m.
Louisville Holy Cross vs. Metcalfe County, 11:30 a.m.
University Heights vs. Murray,  1 p.m.
Thursday — Lower bracket
Hazard vs. Louisville Collegiate, 5 p.m.
Harlan vs. Painstville, 6:30 p.m.
Somerset vs. Gallatin County, 8 p.m.
St. Henry vs. Campbellsville, 9:30 p.m.
Upper bracket quarterfinals, 5 and 6:30 p.m.
Lower bracket quarterfinals, 8 and 9:30 p.m.
Semifinals, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Championship game, 2 p.m.

(at EKU McBrayer Arena in Richmond)
Wednesday — Upper bracket
Berea vs. Bardstown Bethlehem, 8:30 a.m.
West Carter vs. Lyon County, 10 a.m.
Williamsburg vs. Glasgow, 11:30 a.m.
Danville vs. Louisville Collegiate, 1 p.m.
Wednesday — Lower bracket
Brossart vs. Owensboro Catholic, 5 p.m.
Knott County Central vs. Murray, 6:30 p.m.
Walton-Verona vs. Newport Central Catholic, 8 p.m.
Louisville Holy Cross vs. Shelby Valley, 9:30 p.m.
Upper bracket quarterfinals, 8:30 and 10 a.m.
Lower bracket quarterfinals, 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Semifinals, noon and 1:30 p.m.
Championship game, noon

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