Sweet 16: Colonels too quick for Newport

Christian County's 70-51 victory over Newport in Wednesday's first round of the PNC/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen proved the axiom that speed kills.

Christian County, in the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in five years, led 32-30 before going on a game-breaking 10-0 run in the third quarter. The Colonels crashed the Rupp Arena glass, picked up their defense and, most apparent, revved up the pace.

The Colonels (30-4) led 46-37 through three quarters, then spread the offense to open up quality shots.

"When they spread you out like they spread us out at the end, there's nothing we could do," Wildcats Coach Aric Russell said. "We even started trying to foul a couple times and we couldn't even foul them they were getting the ball up the floor so quick."

Quickest was Anthony Hickey, a 5-foot-10 junior guard. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

"He's the quickest person I've defended this year," said DaMarko Foster, who led Newport with 21 points and three steals. "You've got to play mind games with him, and they didn't work today."

Donovan Kates, a 6-5 junior, led Christian County scorers with 22 points and matched Hickey's three assists.

After Foster, Newport (29-6) had Casey McDaniel with 10 points and six rebounds.

Coach Kerry Stovall said he told his Colonels beforehand that rebounding and defending Newport's three-point chances would be key.

"I thought (Newport) did a tremendous job of that in the first half," he said. "The second half, we did a much better job of rebounding the ball, knocked a few threes down. We took that away from them and our defensive pressure really cranked up, especially in the third quarter. Our guys shared the ball and did a good job of finding the open man."

Marcoreyon Tandy started the 10-0 third-quarter run with a layup, coming off a Newport turnover.

Another error led to Hickey's three-point play.

Kates finished the flurry with a three-pointer and a fast-break hoop, both coming off turnovers.

The Colonels had a 23-10 advantage in points off turnovers, 46-26 on points in the paint. Christian County had 11 turnovers to Newport's 19 and outrebounded the Wildcats 31-24, including 15 offensive boards.

"They hit the boards and we missed some box-out assignments," Russell said. "You can't do that against them. ... Once we got in a hole we couldn't sit back in a zone. They're a tough rebounding team, no doubt about it. We didn't keep them off. They got too many second looks."

That helped Christian County improve from 39.3 percent field-goal accuracy in the first half to 62.1 in the second half and 50.9 overall.

The Colonels got six points, four rebounds and a team-leading four assists from Veontae Lewis.

"I know our kids were ready to play," said Russell, whose team beat defending state champion Holmes for the 9th Region title. "We played hard. We just ran into a really good team.

"We didn't handle the pressure real well. ... That got in our head a little bit and it led to some easy baskets for them."