FRANKFORT — Newport Central Catholic's Michael Bueter stands in the shadows of his long and tall teammates, but he doesn't play in their shadows.
Bueter was the catalyst in NewCath's 49-44 victory over Knott County Central in the semifinals of the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic on Saturday night.
Bueter, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, had 20 points, including the Thoroughbreds' last nine to hold off a late rally by Knott Central.
"Michael's battle-tested," Coach Grant Brannen said. "He did the same thing in the (All 'A' 9th Region) finals when he had nine of our last 11 points in a close win against Newport.
"He's used to all this."
NewCath, the 2000 small-school champ, will play Bardstown, the 2006 champ, in Sunday afternoon's title game in the Frankfort Convention Center.
Bardstown advanced to the finals with a 58-50 victory over Bishop Brossart.
NewCath is best known for its tree-top front line of 6-8 junior Jake Schulte, 6-6 sophomore Drew McDonald and 6-5 senior Nick Seibert.
Bueter said his role is to "knock down shots and get the big boys open. I feed off them because they draw so much attention that it allows me to just play."
NewCath made a total of two three-pointers in its first two games here, which made it more difficult for its big guys inside. But Bueter hit three from long range against Knott Central.
They were needed because the Patriots packed their defense inside. Schulte managed 12 points and eight rebounds, while McDonald was limited to five points.
Seibert's role was to defend Knott Central star Camron Justice. He hounded the 6-2 sophomore all night. Justice had 20 points, but he was only 1-for-8 on threes.
"It's real tough when a 6-5 guy is guarding you," Justice said. "He's on top of you, and then if you beat him, there's two more waiting on you behind him. That's a hard thing to overcome."
Patriots Coach B.B. King had a simple explanation for his team scoring 44 points, 30 below its average: "(NewCath's) stronger than us. They manhandled us."
Bardstown 58, Bishop Brossart 50: Coach James "Boo" Brewer has talked all week about Bardstown's "unfinished business" in the All "A", referring to last year's heart-breaking loss to Covington Holy Cross in the finals. Holy Cross hit a last-second three-pointer to win 52-51.
The Tigers will get a shot at what they call "redemption" when they face NewCath on Sunday.
Bardstown had to work to hold off Brossart, even though the Mustangs shot free throws as if they were blind-folded.
Brossart Coach Mike Code said missing foul shots is "like salt in the wound." The Mustangs poured a lot of salt on their wounds against Bardstown. They missed 11 of their first 12 foul shots, and 17 of 25 for the game.
What was Brewer thinking as he watched Brossart's free-throw futility? "I'm glad that's not us," he said.
Bardstown had its own problems when it missed six of nine from the line in a stretch of the fourth quarter. That allowed Brossart, which trailed by 12 with four minutes to go, to trim a 12-point deficit to three (51-48) with 1:09 left.
But Brossart got no closer. Bardstown closed out the victory with Tavon Johnson hitting three of four free throws, and Devonte Grundy scoring on two run-out dunks.
Grundy had 26 points and 10 rebounds, following up his 31 points and 12 rebounds against Model in the quarterfinals.
"He's a tremendous player. He's sensational," Code said.
Marcus Cosby added 17 points for Bardstown, including a clutch rebound basket late in the game.
Brossart was led by its two seniors — Justin Saunders with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Ben Uebel with 10 points.
"These two seniors are as good as it gets," Code said. "Down 13 or 33, they're going to play like a Brossart Mustang."
BARDSTOWN 58, Bishop BROSSART 50
BARDSTOWN (19-5) — Grundy 26, Cosby 17, Young 6, Gordon 2, Johnson 3, Cowherd 2, Yocum 2.
BISHOP BROSSART (19-4) — Saunders 19, Burns 9, Uebel 10, Jennings 3, Rieger 3, Trentman 6.
Bardstown 9 15 15 19—58
Brossart 10 11 7 22—50
NEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC 49, KNOTT COUNTY CENTRAL 44
KNOTT CENTRAL (20-4) — Justice 20, Hall 1, Cornett 12, Christon 8, Short 3.
NEWPORT CATHOLIC (21-1) — Schulte 12, Bueter 21, Pangallo 5, Seibert 2, Weyer 4, McDonald 5.
Knott Central 7 6 10 21—44
Newport Catholic 15 2 16 16—49
2:30 p.m. — Bardstown (19-5) vs. Newport Central Catholic (21-1)