First-half shooting clinic by Sweet Sixteen star CJ Fredrick
Fans who stuck around for the final game of the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen state tournament at Rupp Arena on Friday night got to witness a scoring clinic from a Big 10 talent.
University of Iowa signee CJ Fredrick put on a show, scoring a tournament-high 32 points to lead Covington Catholic past Fern Creek, 66-58.
Fredrick showed off an impressive, multifaceted offensive game. He knocked down shots from the perimeter, got to the basket off the dribble, and used screens to gain separation for pull-up jumpers. Fredrick hit 10 of 14 shots from the field and 10 of 11 free throws.
With the win, the Colonels avenged an early-season loss to Fern Creek in the King of the Bluegrass Tournament and set up a Saturday semifinal matchup with Oldham County.
Covington Catholic dominated the second quarter. After Fern Creek closed to within 22-20 the Colonels ripped off a 17-5 run the rest of the half to take a 39-25 lead into the locker room.
Fredrick finished off the spurt with seven points in the final 1:25. He knocked down three straight shots, including a three-pointer and a nifty one-handed runner seconds before the buzzer.
“CJ has been making those shots all year for us,” said CovCath Coach Scott Ruthsatz. “I give credit to the screeners too and a lot of the guys off the ball, because they’re doing everything they can to get him opportunities.”
Fredrick said he had a feeling early on that he might be in for a big night.
“I was feeling good. Every game I come in trying to do whatever I can to help get our team the win. I knew they were gonna be aggressive with me so I just tried to do a lot off the dribble,” he said. “Luckily the shots were going in tonight.”
Fern Creek went toe-to-toe with the Colonels in the second half, finally getting the deficit to single digits, 59-50, with 1:15 to play. But Fredrick went 4-for-4 from the foul line down the stretch to help seal the win.
Seniors Clint Wickliffe and Ahmad Price led Fern Creek with 14 points apiece. With the loss, the Tigers fell one-game short of last year’s postseason run, in which they lost to Cooper in the semifinals.
Fern Creek Coach James Schooler was impressed with how CovCath responded every time the Tigers threatened to climb back in the game.
“This was a tough loss tonight,” said Fern Creek Coach James Schooler. “I still felt like we were in a great position ... we eventually got into their legs and got into their conditioning. But CovCath’s an extremely strong group, they withstood the swarm.”