Lexington Christian knew it had a tough draw in the first round of the All “A” Classic in Frankfort on Thursday.
The No. 21 Eagles had been ousted from the event by Newport Central Catholic each of the past two years and the No. 10 Thoroughbreds are the three-time defending champion of the small-school basketball tournament.
NewCath quickly established that it was primed for another title run, jumping out on the Eagles 12-0 in the first period on its way to a relatively easy 69-48 victory.
“Credit to them,” said LCA Coach Nate Valentine after the game. “There’s a reason they’re a top 10 team in the state, and they’ve got a kid who’s going to Bellarmine (Ben Weyer) on full scholarship. And they’re getting ready to go for their fourth All ‘A’ in a row.”
As LCA opened the game with a couple of missed shots and four turnovers, Weyer, a 6-foot-6 senior, faked a three-pointer that opened the lane up wide for an easy layup, then blocked an LCA shot in the lane and later drove and dished to teammate Brian Anderson for an assist on the three-pointer that capped the run at 12-0 and prompted Valentine’s second timeout in the first 4 1/2 minutes.
Credit to them. There’s a reason they’re a top 10 team in the state, and they’ve got a kid who’s going to Bellarmine (Ben Weyer) on full scholarship. And they’re getting ready to go for their fourth All “A” in a row.
Nate Valentine, Lexington Christian coach
The Eagles settled down and got back in the game, getting as close as 26-21 on a layup by freshman standout Kyle Rode with 3:20 left in the second period. Rode, who averages 18 points per game, was limited to just 12 by the Thoroughbreds. NewCath Coach Ron Dawn said the Thoroughbreds keyed on Rode much of the game.
“We wanted to make sure they didn’t get things in transition, and we were actually going to double him early on in the game in the full-court just to make him give it up and then try to deny him getting it back in the half-court game,” Dawn said. “He’s a heck of a player, especially for a freshman.”
During the Eagles’ rally, LCA was able to frustrate Weyer for a few minutes. But the momentum didn’t last as NewCath stretched the lead back to 33-23 at halftime.
LCA opened the scoring in the third period with a Tre King post-up basket, but the Thoroughbreds’ pressure and three-point shooting were able to turn the Eagles over and make them pay. Newport Catholic’s John Ludwig, Anderson and Weyer knocked down successive three-pointers early in the third to extend the lead to 44-27. The Eagles shot just 37 percent for the game and committed 17 turnovers.
NewCath was 11-for-24 from three-point range, aided by Weyer’s team-high seven assists. Weyer also led the team in rebounding with 13 boards and added five blocks.
“I thought we did a nice job on him,” Valentine said of Weyer, who scored 11 points in the game, 11 below his average. “We limited his touches. When he’s averaging 22 a game, you want to keep the ball out of his hands and make the other guys beat you. And today they did.”
Newport Catholic placed four players in double figures, led by sophomore guard Brennan Hall with 19 points.
“I keep telling (Weyer) that he doesn’t need to force things,” Dawn said. “He has to trust his teammates and have confidence in them, especially in big games. He has a tendency sometimes to try to do too much, but he came out tonight and did a really good job getting the ball to the open man.”
Newport Central Catholic 69, Lexington Christian 48
Newport Central Catholic (17-3) — Hall 19, Anderson 11, Moeves 12, Weyer 11, Ludwig 11, Neff 3, Iles 2.
Lexington Christian (12-11) — Dalton 9, Hill 4, Rode 12, King 16, Hall 4, Hunt 3.
Newport Central Catholic
All ‘A’ Classic quarterfinals
At Frankfort Convention Center
6:30 p.m.: Newport Central Catholic (17-3) vs. Danville (11-9)