The 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball state tournament tips off Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Below is a team profile for the Covington Catholic Colonels, who will meet Apollo in the first round at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Enrollment: 592 (all boys)
Scott Ruthsatz is 196-46 in seven seasons at Covington Catholic and 214-51 overall as a head coach. He worked in Ohio and in New Jersey (under Hall of Famer Bob Hurley) before taking over at CovCath in the 2011-12 season.
1) CJ Fredrick, 6-4, Sr., 22.5 ppg
21) AJ Mayer, 6-3, Sr., 9.0 ppg
22) Aiden Ruthsatz, 5-10, Sr., 14.3 ppg
23) Casey Nowak, 6-0, Sr., 1.5 ppg
44) Jake Walter, 7-1, Sr., 11.7 ppg
How they got here
Covington Catholic clobbered Dixie Heights, 74-31, in the 9th Region finals but it was the Colonels’ previous game, a 53-49 win over defending region titlist Cooper, that more or less decided who would go to Rupp Arena this season.
Fredrick, a guard who’s signed with the University of Iowa, stirs the drink for CovCath’s offense. On the season he’s shot 57.7 percent from the floor and 82.5 percent from the free-throw line.
“You never get a sense in a game, or when you look at his stats after a game, and go, ‘Boy, he got 20 points but he shot 25 times.’ That never happens,” Ruthsatz said. “It’s usually he scores 20 points and he might shoot 10 times or something like that. He’s very, very efficient but he’s a willing passer. He’ll give up a good shot for him for a great shot for Aiden or Jake or whoever it might be.
“That alone, I think, is what differentiates us from a lot of teams. We have five guys who are willing to pass.”
Player to watch
Walter is a hulk of a human being, but his basketball ability ratcheted up over the summer leading into his senior season. Scouts noticed, and he earned and accepted scholarship offer from Xavier University.
He’s shooting 72.9 percent from the field — more than 10 percentage points better than a year ago.
“His efficiency scoring around the basket obviously very high because of his size, but he’s done a lot of work on his foot-work and things over the years and made tremendous progressions in his game,” Ruthsatz said. “It just comes down to being in the gym and working hard. We’re getting him prepared for his next chapter of his basketball career, which will be played at a very high level at Xavier. ... We take the mindset that we’re training him like a college athlete, and he’s responded to that well.”
Covington Catholic is renowned for its student section, “The Colonel Crazies.” They won “Most Spirited Student Section” at the 2014 Sweet Sixteen and will be the frontrunner this week. Their antics aren’t exclusive to basketball, though; they’ve poured out in droves for football and soccer over the last decade, too.
“It was well-established before I got here seven years ago and I know they’ve won awards down there before at the state tournament,” Ruthsatz said with a laugh. “They’re just tremendously proud of the sports and their school. ... It really comes down to the way our administration and the school handle full support of the student body. They really give ’em a lot of leeway in organizing and doing things, and I give a lot of credit to our school for allowing our kids to have a good say in that.”
Covington Catholic will make its 11th appearance in the Sweet Sixteen and its third in the last five seasons.