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CovCath holds off Beechwood in 35th District final; Lloyd, Cooper, SK also win boys district titles

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Covington Catholic basketball players got an idea of how tough it could be to repeat as 9th Region champions on Friday when the Colonels had to battle to the end to defeat Beechwood, 61-53, in the 35th District title game on their home court.

Last year, CovCath won all three of its region tournament games by double-digit margins, but the current team doesn’t have a strong inside presence and relies heavily on senior point guard Evan Ipsaro to make things happen.

CovCath guard Evan Ipsaro’s drive to the basket draws a crowd of Beechwood players. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

Ipsaro scored 31 points in Friday’s win, hitting 11 of 19 from the field and all nine of his free throws, to go along with seven rebounds.

But Beechwood kept it close and pulled to within three points, 56-53, with less than a minute left on the clock.

The Tigers upset Holy Cross with a strong finish in a district semifinal game, but that didn’t happen this time. In the final seconds, Beechwood missed its last four field goal attempts while Ipsaro made four of his team’s five free throws.

CovCath (26-4) played the game without junior guard Brady Hussey, who was averaging 12.7 points when he went down with an injury during the last week of the regular season. His replacement was senior Ayden Link, who had 10 points and eight rebounds.

The leading scorer for Beechwood (11-19) was freshman guard Logan Wehrmuth with 16 points. Sophomore forward Mattox Kelly and senior forward Cam Boyd had 12 each. The Tigers won the battle on the boards, 35-33, with Boyd getting 10 rebounds. But they committed 12 turnovers and the Colonels scored 18 points off those miscues.

District winners will play district runner-up teams in 9th Region first-round games on Monday and Wednesday at Northern Kentucky University’s Truist Arena. The brackets will be determined during a draw on Saturday morning.

Beechwood’s first-round opponent will be Cooper, Lloyd or Newport. CovCath will face Highlands, St. Henry or Conner, the only 9th Region team that beat the Colonels during the regular season.

Lloyd 60, St. Henry 58 (34th District boys final)

Lloyd will enter the 9th Region boys tournament as the 34th District champion for the first time since 2017 after getting past St. Henry, 60-58, in the district title game on Friday at St. Henry.

After finishing the first half with a 32-20 lead, the Juggernauts (18-9) had to survive a strong comeback by St. Henry to come away with their 11th victory in the last 14 games.

Lloyd senior Jeremiah Israel

Lloyd senior guard Jeremiah Israel scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the first half and received the tournament’s most valuable player award. The Juggernauts got 17 of their 28 points in the second half from sophomores Isaiah Sebastian and EJ Walker, who finished with 15 and 10 points.

In the fourth quarter, St. Henry outscored Lloyd, 21-15, because the Juggernauts missed five free throws. The Crusaders (14-13) only had one free throw attempt in the final period.

St. Henry’s leading scorer was senior guard Jack Grayson, who got 16 of his 20 points in the second half. The team’s other double-figure scorers were seniors Matt Resing (12) and Rhet Ravenscraft (11).

As the 34th District runner-up, the Crusaders advance to the 9th Region tournament for the 19th time in 31 years under coach Dave Faust, who now holds the boys region record for most career victories.

Simon Kenton 57, Grant County 49 (32nd District boys final)

Simon Kenton scored the first six points in the fourth quarter to take 48-39 lead and held off a late charge by Grant County to come away with a 57-49 win in the 32nd District title game on Friday at Simon Kenton.

Grant County (25-7) pulled to within three points, 52-49, but the Pioneers (21-10) made five of six free throws in the final seconds to secure the victory. On the one missed free throw, Logan Crisp got the rebound and passed the ball to Travis Krohman, who made two foul shots for a six-point lead.

Jay Bilton made the final two free throws to finish with a game-high 22 points and six assists. The Pioneers’ other double-figure scorers were Isaac Gabbard (13) and Krohman (10). Gabe Dynes had six points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks.

Simon Kenton shot 51 percent (18 of 35) from the field compared to Grant County’s 40 percent (15 of 37). Both teams advance to next week’s 8th Region Tournament at Henry County.

Cooper 59, Conner 55 OT (33rd District boys final)

Cooper made five of six free throws in the final seconds of overtime to upset top-seeded Conner, 59-55, and claim its first 33rd District title since 2019 on Friday at Cooper.

With the score tied, 48-48, in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Conner guard Landon Hamilton missed a shot from near half-court and the game went into overtime. After the Cougars tied it, 54-54, on a basket by Dalton Kramer with a minute left in the extra period, Cooper won the game on foul shots by Yamil Rondon and Gavin Lutz.

It was an uplifting victory for the Jaguars, who lost starting center Caleb Brooks due to a season-ending knee injury in December and had a 2-5 record in the final three weeks of the regular season.

Cooper (16-12) and Conner (19-8) will both play in the 9th Region tournament that begins Monday at NKU’s Truist Arena.




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