Covington Catholic celebrates its state championship victory
When a list showing a second century’s worth of Kentucky high school basketball champions is drawn up 99 years from now, it’ll start with one name: Covington Catholic.
The Colonels defeated Scott County 73-55 to win the 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball state tournament championship game Sunday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
CJ Fredrick poured in 32 points in the finals, tied for ninth-best all-time in the finals. He scored 111 over four games in the tournament, putting him alone in 12th place for a single tournament. He passed Dominique Hawkins’ total from the 2013 tournament (107) and finished a point behind Chris Lofton’s total in 2003 (112).
Fredrick, a 6-foot-4 senior who has signed with the University of Iowa, shot 63.6 percent during the tournament; that’s tied for the 20th-best percentage over four games.
“I’m not gonna forget this moment,” Fredrick said. “It means a lot to just win a state championship and be able to play the way I play for my team. It feels great.”
Fredrick was named Sweet Sixteen MVP. He was named Kentucky’s Gatorade Player of the Year and was a finalist for Mr. Basketball but earlier in the week lost that award to Mercer County’s Trevon Faulkner.
That wasn’t on Fredrick’s mind this week. He was more concerned this season about avenging last year’s loss to Cooper in the 9th Region finals and making a run at state. Mission accomplished.
“I didn’t really care last year cause when we lost last year we had one goal, and that one goal was to win a state championship,” Fredrick said. “We worked hard to get that. Winning Mr. Basketball’s just like, I mean, it’s obviously an award any basketball player would want, but it wasn’t the main priority.”
Covington Catholic improved to 2-1 in championship trips, both wins coming against Scott County and both under head coach Scott Ruthsatz, who completed his seventh season as the Colonels’ head coach with his 200th victory at the program.
The Colonels shot 63 percent from the field as a team for the entire tournament.
“It’s just a testament to our whole program of knowing that this is an equal-opportunity sport (but) nobody gets an equal amount of shots,” Ruthsatz said. “They’ve got to understand that and if they play their role, they’ll play. If they don’t want to play their role, they won’t play. And our guys, you just saw, bought into their role.”
The 9th Region champion won four games in four days to claim its second state title. CovCath played 3rd Region champion Apollo in the first round on Thursday, advancing with a 71-47 victory. The Colonels avenged one of their two in-state losses in the quarterfinals after knocking out 6th Region champ Fern Creek, 66-58. They followed that late Friday win with the first running-clock decision of the tournament, a 67-28 victory over Oldham County in the semifinals on Saturday.
Covington Catholic (35-4) became the third school to win a boys’ basketball championship and a football championship in the same school year, all doing so in the last seven years. Trinity did it first in the 2011-12 season and Bowling Green did it last season.
Cooper Robb, a senior who’s signed with Charlotte, had 22 points to lead Scott County. Michael Moreno, a junior, had with 21 points and eight rebounds. Those two, along with junior Glenn Covington, were named to the All-Tournament team.
Scott County (37-2) fell to 2-4 all-time in state finals appearances and suffered its only loss to an in-state opponent this year.
The Cardinals led for chunks of the first quarter before Covington Catholic ended the period on a 9-1 run. Scott County got to within three points on multiple occasions in the second quarter but never got closer than that the rest of the way. CovCath led 32-25 at the half and went up by double digits after hitting its first three shots of the third quarter — a jumper by Aiden Ruthsatz and two more by Fredrick, who scored seven points in the first three minutes of the quarter.
“He’s one of the best I’ve faced down here,” Scott County Coach Billy Hicks said of Fredrick. “He had a great night. I watched him all week. He’s a heck of a player. I don’t know how guys let him get out of Kentucky. He’s really an outstanding offensive player.”
Ruthsatz had 16 points and five assists and was named to the All-Tournament team along with AJ Mayer, who had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Colonels.
Robb will be a key departure from Scott County. The Cards will return four of their five starters, including Moreno, who will be among the front-runners for Mr. Basketball in 2019, along with and junior Lorenzo Williams, who started two years before taking on a sixth-man role this season, .
Hicks wasn’t ready to look forward.
“I’m gonna enjoy this season. (We went) 37-2. We had a great year,” Hicks said. “I’m gonna get in the locker room and hug these guys and tell ’em how much I’ve enjoyed coaching ’em and how much I love ’em.”