A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Switching defenses pays off for CovCath in 66-55 win over St. Henry to reach 9th Region boys semifinals

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

St. Henry’s chances of upsetting Covington Catholic in the opening round of the 9th Region boys basketball tournament looked promising when the Crusaders pulled to within two points, 35-33, early in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game.

That’s when CovCath switched from zone to man-to-man defense and started forcing turnovers that catapulted the Colonels to a 66-55 victory at Northern Kentucky University’s Truist Arena.

CovCath senior guard Evan Ipsaro drives to basket against Carson Shea of St. Henry. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

St. Henry gave up the ball without a shot on seven of its last 10 possessions in the third quarter and CovCath scored off four of those turnovers to open up a 45-39 lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Colonels scored seven straight points off turnovers to go ahead, 56-42, and maintained a double-digit lead by going 8-for-8 at the foul line with one field goal in the final four minutes.

“We thought we had to go with what we call our zone early on,” said CovCath coach Scott Ruthsatz. “And then we thought, ‘We’ve got to go man. We’ve got to be more aggressive on the ball and try to get deflections and things like that.'”

The defensive switch worked so well that the Colonels (27-4) scored 15 of their final 29 points off turnovers committed by St. Henry (14-14).

It started with CovCath senior guard Evan Ipsaro making two steals and getting a takeaway on a charging call.

“It was 100 percent locking in on defense,” Ipsaro said when asked about his team pulling away in the second half. “We’ll be fine scoring the ball, but you’ve got to lock in on the other side.”

CovCath freshman Athens McGillis tries to avoid a block taking the ball to the basket. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Both team’s shot well from the field — CovCath hit 23 of 42 for 54.8 percent and St. Henry connected on 19 of 36 for 52.8 percent. The big difference was the Colonels’ 22-9 scoring advantage in points off turnovers.

“I’m proud of my kids,” said St. Henry coach Dave Faust. “We fought back and had a chance. We were down three and I don’t know how many straight turnovers we had, but those empty possessions hurt.”

Ipsaro finished with a game-high 28 points to go along with four assists, four steals and three rebounds. He was 9-of-14 from the field on mostly drives to the basket and made 10 of 11 foul shots.

“He’s a difference-maker,” coach Faust said of Ipsaro. “You get the ball in his hands and a couple times we ran at him and he finds the open man. He’s not selfish. He makes his team better.”

The other double-figure scorers for CovCath were junior guard Brady Hussey with 12 points and senior guard Ayden Link with 10 off the bench. In the second half, Link had eight points and freshman guard Athens McGillis had seven to help the Colonels pull away.

The leading scorers for St. Henry were seniors Matthew Resing with 17 and Rhet Ravenscraft with 11. They made seven of their team’s 10 field goals in the second half.

The matchups in the 9th Region semifinals on Sunday will be Newport (26-6) vs. Lloyd (19-9) at 2 p.m. and CovCath vs. Cooper (17-12) at 3:30 p.m. The winners will meet in the championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

COVCATH   16  17  12  21 — 66
ST. HENRY  12  12  15  16 — 55

COVCATH (27-4): Ipsaro 9 10 28, A. McGillis 4 1 9, K. McGillis 1 2 4, Hussey 4 0 10, Link 4 4 12, Ruthsatz 1 0 3. Totals: 23 17 66.

ST. HENRY (14-14): Resing 6 4 17, Fedders 2 2 6, Shea 3 0 8, Ravenscraft 4 2 11, Grayson 2 1 5, Kaiser 1 2 5, Reis 1 0 3. Totals: 19 11 55.

3-point goals: CC — Hussey 2, Ruthsatz. SH — Shea 2, Resing, Ravenscraft, Kaiser, Reis.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment