FRANKFORT — Newport Central Catholic won its second consecutive boys' Touchstone Energy All "A" championship, and third overall, by beating Cordia 72-61 in the Frankfort Convention Center on Sunday.
NewCath's next goal is to do what the last back-to-back small-school titlist did. Shelby Valley won the All "A" in 2009 and 2010, and also captured the 2010 Sweet Sixteen championship.
"We want to go for the big one now," said NewCath junior Zack Pangallo, the All "A" MVP. "We want to win both, like Shelby Valley did."
Teammate Drew McDonald seconded that.
"It's incredible to win back-to-back," he said. "But we've got bigger fish to fry. We want Lexington in March. We don't just want to get there, we want to compete."
NewCath, No. 4 in Dave Cantrall's Rating the State, rolled over its All "A" competition. It beat Owensboro Catholic by 21, Green County by 36, Lexington Christian by 29 and Cordia by 11. (The Thoroughbreds led the Lions by 18 points with less than two minutes to go.)
Cordia was expected to give NewCath its toughest test. The small school in Knott County has a bevy of big-time talent that has transferred in to play for former UK player Rodrick Rhodes.
But NewCath outplayed the Lions with better teamwork, better shooting and better rebounding.
It was a lot easier than when they beat Cordia 64-63 in double overtime in a Christmas tournament.
"We weren't intimidated at all by them," Coach Ron Dawn said. "We came out and played hard from the get-go.
"Overall we did a real good job handling their pressure, and our big guys did what we wanted them to do — take it to 'em inside."
NewCath's starters all scored in double figures, led by Pangallo's 15 points.
McDonald, a 6-7 junior, had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jake Schulte, a 6-8 senior, had 14 points and seven rebounds. Ben Weyer, a 6-4 sophomore, added 11 points and six rebounds.
Senior guard Tanner Moeves, had 10 points.
Cordia had only one player — Christen Cunningham — in double figures. The senior guard had 32 points, 22 in the last quarter.
NewCath led by 15 early in the second half before Cordia forced four consecutive turnovers and closed the gap to 36-28.
But the Lions would get no closer.
NewCath spent the fourth quarter shooting free throws, hitting 24 of 32. It made 32 of 42 for the game.
Pangallo led the Breds with 67 points in four games, and ran the point with aplomb.
"We knew (Cordia) would bring a lot of pressure. They play a high-tempo game," he said. "We knew we had to take care of the ball and knock down shots."
NewCath shot 51 percent (19 of 37). Cordia shot 39 percent (22 of 57), and made 15 of 23 free throws.
Rhodes said the Lions' inability to make shots early got them in a hole they never escaped.
"That was the difference," he said. "When we missed, (NewCath) leaked out on the break. We knew they were a good transition team.
"And our pressure didn't bother them as much as we wanted it to.
"They play hard, they're big and physical. They have good guard play, and they're very disciplined with the basketball."
This was Dawn's third All "A" title. He coached NewCath's boys to the 2000 crown. A year later he got out of coaching, then returned to coach NewCath's girls and led them to the 2010 championship. After leaving coaching again, he returned this season and won another title.
Newport Catholic 72, Cordia 61
CORDIA (17-6) — Cunningham 32, Tagaloa 7, Lucien 2, Chisolm 2, Frimpong 3, 3, Chapman 9, Ortiz 2, Combs 4.
NEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC (21-3) —Pangallo 15, McDonald 14, Schulte 14, Weyer 11, T.Moeves 10, G,Moeves 8
Cordia 9 12 11 29—61
Newport Catholic 14 20 10 28—72
All-tournament: Zack Pangallo (MVP), Drew McDonald, Jake Schulte, Tanner Moeves of NewCath; Christen Cunningham, Anthony Tagaoloa, Oumar Keita of Cordia; Peyton Case and Dylan Meade of Betsy Layne; Jordan Fox of Jackson County; Matt Rose of LCA; Jack Schmitt of Lou. Holy Cross; Patrick Hubert of St. Mary.