High School Basketball

Owensboro Catholic girls overcome adversity to take All 'A' crown

Owensboro Catholic's Becca Greenwell shot over Alexus Mayes. A Miss Basketball favorite and Duke signee, she played with less pizazz after aggravating an old knee injury.
Owensboro Catholic's Becca Greenwell shot over Alexus Mayes. A Miss Basketball favorite and Duke signee, she played with less pizazz after aggravating an old knee injury.

FRANKFORT — Owensboro Catholic's girls won the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic for the second time in three years by beating Newport Central Catholic 52-42 in the Frankfort Convention Center on Sunday afternoon.

This championship came under much more trying circumstances for the Aces than their 2011 title, though.

Ray Zuberer, their coach, was arrested on DUI charges the night before the tournament began on Wednesday. Assistant Michael Robertson had to step up and serve as interim coach this week.

Then there were Becca Greenwell's knee problems.

Two years ago Greenwell was a one-woman wrecking crew in leading Owensboro Catholic to the All "A" title and earning MVP honors. She had a tournament-record 122 points, and her 56 rebounds were one shy of tying the tournament record.

This time around Greenwell wasn't the same force of nature. Slowed by a bad knee (she sat out last season recovering from ACL surgery, and she tweaked the knee again in December), the 6-foot-1 senior wasn't as fast or furious this week.

The Miss Basketball favorite and Duke signee still had 76 points and 40 rebounds in Owensboro Catholic's four All "A" games, including 17 points and 15 rebounds in the finals, but she admitted her bad knee "kind of turned me into more of a team player. I play more as decoy now."

Greenwell's supporting cast, especially Kaylyn Pearson, picked up the slack.

Pearson, a transfer from Owensboro who sat out last season, had 18 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists in the finals.

"Kaylyn turned into an unbelievable player in this tournament," Greenwell said.

Senior Leah Greathouse also played well, contributing nine points, four rebounds and four assists.

NewCath first-year coach George Stoll thought the key to Owensboro Catholic's victory was the inside play of Pearson and Destiny Howard, who helped the Aces to a 37-23 edge on the boards.

"We knew Greenwell was going to get hers, and she did," Stoll said. "But Pearson and Howard got too many rebounds. That was the big thing."

NewCath, which was also runner-up last year, was led by Nicole Kiernan. The 5-10 junior had 15 points, but was just 6-for-17 from the field. She had nine rebounds, giving her a tournament record 58 in four games.

Robertson credited the Aces' defense for carrying them to victories over Green County, Monroe County, Gallatin County and NewCath and to the small-school championship.

"I knew we could score; it was just a matter of guarding people," he said.

Robertson embraced the chance to run the show for the Aces.

"It's always been a dream of mine to be a head coach," he said. "Ray always let me do a lot, so I think I was ready for it. Did I like how the situation came about? No. But God works in mysterious ways sometimes. He doesn't always give you the most opportune chance, but if he does you need to make the most of it."

Greenwell, who tweaked her knee in the closing minutes of the finals and went to the locker room briefly before returning to the court, was proud of the way the Aces handled difficult circumstances.

"Before we left (Owensboro) we tried to put everything that happened behind us," she said. "We tried to come in focused, and we did.

"I'm real happy we won it again. I think we proved people wrong who thought we couldn't get this far with all that we've been through."

NEWPORT CATHOLIC (17-5) — Kiernan 15, Ware 7, Mayes 8, Lewis 8, Zimmerman 4.

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC (16-5) — Greenwell 17, Pearson 18, Greathouse 9, Howard 6, Berry 2.

Newport Catholic 8 18 9 7—42

Owensboro Catholic 9 19 13 11—52

All-tournament: Becca Greenwell (MVP), Leah Greathouse, Kaylyn Pearson, Destiny Howard of Owensboro Catholic. Nicole Kiernan, Stephanie Lewis, Alexus Mayes of NewCath; Shauntae Brown of Frankfort; Madison Clemons of Monroe County; Sarah Futscher, Abby Stadmiller of Bishop Brossart; Hannah Dossett, Mikkah Hignite of Gallatin County.