High School Sports

All ‘A’ Classic semifinals: Cordia boys knock out defending champ Newport Catholic

Cordia’s Kareem McDonald (14), Oumar Keita (23) and Anthony Nelson huddled around their coach, Rodrick Rhodes, after an emotional win over Newport Central Catholic in the semifinals of the boys’ All “A” Classic on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.
Cordia’s Kareem McDonald (14), Oumar Keita (23) and Anthony Nelson huddled around their coach, Rodrick Rhodes, after an emotional win over Newport Central Catholic in the semifinals of the boys’ All “A” Classic on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. jmoore@herald-leader.com

Ramon Mercado hit a go-ahead three-pointer, Zeke Biallas and Anthony Nelson sank a couple pairs of free throws and Cordia earned its second berth in the boys’ All “A” Classic championship with a 47-41 victory over three-time defending champion Newport Central Catholic.

The Lions lost to Newport Catholic in the 2014 finals, their only previous trip to the small-school state tournament. Coach Rodrick Rhodes called Saturday’s win the biggest in Cordia history, at least for the next 18 or so hours.

“Until tomorrow, if we’re fortunate enough to win,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes was overwhelmed with emotion after the game. He and his kids have been through a lot, he said, so much that he’s grown immune to any stones thrown his way.

The KHSAA limited Cordia to playing 15 possible games last season and barred it from postseason competition in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons after the school was found to have committed multiple violations ranging from recruiting to providing illegal benefits to players.

Being ineligible to compete for the official state title should serve as fuel for the Lions as they go up against Murray for the All “A” crown. Cordia ended up playing only 12 contests a year ago and didn’t participate in the All “A” Classic.

“We had the experience of not being in it and we really wanted to just take it in,” Rhodes said. “ … This is a privilege to play in this tournament. The kids understand it and I understand it. We’re thrilled to be back in the championship and have a chance to finish the job.”

Cordia jumped out to a 7-0 lead, six of which were scored by Ajanee Chisolm. Newport Catholic responded with an 8-0 run before the Lions jumped ahead 12-11 into the second period. Cordia took a 22-21 lead at halftime before the Thoroughbreds knotted things at 35-all in the third period, during which Brennan Hall scored the first 10 Newport Catholic points.

The teams traded leads for most of the fourth. Bellarmine signee Ben Weyer drilled a three-pointer to put Newport Catholic ahead 41-40 with 1:01 to play. Mercado’s second three-pointer of the night gave Cordia the lead for good.

▪  James Boone knocked in an off-balance three-pointer that beat the buzzer and sent Murray to its first ever All “A” Classic championship with a 47-44 upset of No. 22 Owen County on Saturday night.

“We tried to run a set and the set actually broke down a little bit,” Murray Coach Bart Flener said of the Tigers’ designed play out of a stoppage to mop the floor with 7.9 seconds to go. “Duane (Curtis) made a really good decision to throw it to James Boone, and Tre (Hornbuckle) made a really good decision to set a screen, and James made a really good decision to make a jumper as time was going up.”

Girls’ semifinals

Caroline Hayden scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and came up with three steals as Owensboro Catholic defeated Harlan 52-32 Saturday afternoon to reach its third girls’ All “A” Classic championship.

Owensboro Catholic turned its attention to the glass to keep Harlan in check, outrebounding the Green Dragons 39-22. The Aces were quick to hound Harlan players who came down with defensive boards, frequently forcing tough passes and coming up with steals for easy buckets or contact-generating drives.

Aces Coach Michael Robertson said Owensboro Catholic’s defensive gameplan — to make the game difficult for Harlan’s star guards, Jordan Brock and Brooklyn Massingill — worked to perfection. The duo were among only three Green Dragons who scored, but they combined to shoot 10-for-26 from the field for 29 points.

“They’re hard to contain and we did a heck of a job doing that,” Robertson said.

Brock swished in a pair of NBA-range three-pointers in the first quarter to keep Harlan within 13-9 in the first period. McKenzie King trimmed the Aces’ lead to 15-13 on a crafty layup with 5:52 to play in the second quarter, but OCath assumed control with a 12-0 run before heading into the lockeroom.

The Aces are 2-0 in the All “A” Classic finals, winning the small-school tournament in 2011 and 2013. They’ve dropped four games this season but only one to an in-state foe: Murray, whom they’ll get a rematch with on Sunday. The No. 8 Tigers won 73-57 on Jan. 12.

“We’ll let the cards fall where they may. We’re gonna give 100-percent and see what happens,” Robertson said.

▪ Three Tigers finished in double-digit scoring as No. 8 Murray crushed Newport Central Catholic, 65-39, to set up an all-western Kentucky finals. Maddie Waldrop and Lex Mayes led the way with 16 apiece while Macey Turley added 11. Alexis Burpo nearly had a double-double, ending with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

Girls: Owensboro Catholic 52, Harlan 32

Harlan (19-5) — Brock 14, Massingill 15, M. King 3, Bianchi, K. King.

Owensboro Catholic (20-4) — Berry 6, Marshall 6, Moore 14, Hayden 18, Mitchell 4, Keelin 2, Clemens 2.

Harlan

9

4

15

4

32

Owens. Cath.

13

14

11

14

52

Girls: Murray 65, Newport Catholic 39

NewCath (15-7) — Davenport 12, Schalk 6, Pangallo 3, Breen 4, Martin 3, Rice 4, Zimmerman 1, Bridewell 5.

Murray (23-1) — Mayes 16, Ma. Turley 11, Mo. Turley 6, Campbell 1, Ramey 5, Burpo 9, Waldrop 16, Carver 1.

Newport Cath.

11

3

12

13

39

Murray

21

10

21

13

65

Boys: Cordia 47, Newport Catholic 41

NewCath (17-4) — Hall 14, Anderson 5, Moeves 1, Weyer 21, Ludwig.

Cordia (13-6) — Mercado 9, Chisolm 8, Biallas 5, Nelson 16, Henry 4, McDonald 3, Keita 2.

Newport Cath

11

10

14

6

41

Cordia

12

10

13

12

47

Boys: Murray 47, Owen County 44

Murray (19-4) — Clark 12, English 10, Hornbuckle 2, Boone 15, Curtis 8.

Owen County (19-3) — McDonald 6, Toftness 10, Williams 18, Dunaway 8, Forsee 2.

Murray

19

8

12

8

47

Owen County

11

13

13

7

44

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