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All “A” Classic: NewCath, Holy Cross will meet in 9th Region boys championship game on Saturday

By Brendan Connelly & Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporters

After taking a 19-point lead in the third quarter, Holy Cross held off a late rally to defeat St. Henry, 71-65, in the semifinals of the 9th Region All “A” Classic boys basketball tournament on Friday at Villa Madonna Academy.

Junior guard Jacob Meyer scored 48 points for Holy Cross, including a basket that put the Indians ahead 67-48 early in the fourth quarter, but St. Henry rallied with a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to 69-63 with less than a minute left.

Holy Cross guard Jacob Meyer takes the ball to the basket against Owen Setters of St. Henry. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

In the closing seconds, Holy Cross junior Javier Ward dropped a pair of free throws and St. Henry sophomore John Lubert made a layup, but the Crusaders missed their final two field goal attempts.

In the first semifinal game, Newport Central Catholic used a balanced scoring attack to get past Dayton, 51-35, in the team’s second victory without scoring leader Joel Iles and his 18-point average.

No one knows if Iles will be back in the lineup Saturday when the Thoroughbreds take on Holy Cross in the region championship game at 7 p.m. at Thomas More College.

“Next man up.” NewCath head coach Jake Luhn said of his team’s mentality without Iles. “They’ve all earned the right to compete and perform and they brought it (Friday).”

Seven players scored for NewCath in the semifinal game with sophomore Jase Iles and junior Luke Runyon leading the way with 10 points each.

Both teams got off to a slow start. Dayton led, 3-2, just over three minutes into the game when Luhn called a timeout to apply a full-court press that forced five turnovers.

With the game tied at 11, a three-point goal by sophomore JJ Luhn and a basket off a steal by junior George Simons sparked an 11-0 NewCath run that saw five different players score.

The Thoroughbreds continued to force turnovers with pressure defense and used swift ball movement to create quality looks at the basket, but they made only 10 field goals in the first 16 minutes to take a 22-13 halftime lead.

Dayton freshman Blake Puchta looks for an opportunity to block a shot by Ryan Barth of NewCath. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Runyon opened the third quarter with two 3-pointers and Iles added one of his own to help the Thoroughbreds extend their lead to 36-19.

After a futile offensive display for the majority of the game, Dayton put together a 9-0 rally over the final three minutes of the third quarter, aided by five of Lorenzo Price’s eight points and a technical foul on coach Luhn.

A three by senior Maveriq Catacora to open the fourth quarter extended Dayton’s run to 12-0 and made the score 36-31. But a layup by NewCath senior Dom Morgan kick-started an 8-0 run by the Thoroughbreds that pushed their lead back into double digits.

“We had to regroup,” coach Luhn said. “We made it a little about offense to start the third quarter, and that’s just not what we do. When we make it about offense, our defense lapses.”

NewCath’s defense will face a major challenge in the region final against a Holy Cross team that’s averaging 77 points per game with Meyer leading the way. He’ll enter the title game with a 40-point average that’s tops in the state.

In the third quarter of his team’s semifinal game, Meyer made all nine of his field goals attempts to score 19 of the Indians’ 22 points. That put them ahead, 61-46, against a St. Henry team that won region and state championships in the small-school playoffs the last two years.

St. Henry junior guard Jack Grayson scored 10 of his team-high 15 points during the Crusaders’ fourth-quarter rally that came up short.

NEWCATH  9  13  14  15 — 51
DAYTON     9    4  15    7 — 35

NEWCATH (5-9): Eaglin 3 0 6, Iles 4 0 10, Runyan 3 2 10, Morgan 1 0 2, Simons 3 0 6, Butts 4 0 8, Luhn 2 4 9. Totals: 20 6 51.
DAYTON (8-6): Baggett 3 4 10, Lovins 1 0 2, Brock 0 1 1, Johnson 3 2 8, Catacora 2 1 6, Price 3 1 8. Totals 12 9 35.
3-point goals: NC — Iles 2, Runyan 2, Luhn. D — Catacora, Price.

ST. HENRY        18  13  15  19 — 65
HOLY CROSS   24  15  22  10 — 71

ST. HENRY (6-7): Shea 1 2 4, Ravenscraft 3 0 7, Kaiser 1 2 4, Grayson 4 5 15, Resing 2 0 4, Lubert 2 0 5, Fedders 5 3 13, O. Setters 4 0 8, B. Setters 1 3 5. Totals: 23 15 65.
HOLY CROSS (12-5): Meyer 20 3 48, Z. Arlinghaus 1 0 3, D. Arlinghaus 1 0 3, Ward 5 2 14, Gibson 1 1 3. Totals: 28 6 71.
3-point goals: SH — Grayson 2, Ravenscraft, Lubert. HC — Meyer 5, Ward 2, Z. Arlinghaus, D. Arlinghaus.





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