GAME THREE: 6:30 P.M. Wednesday
COVINGTON CATHOLIC VS. CAMPBELL CO.
Region: 9th | Record: 29-5 | Enrollment: 575 (all boys)
Scott Ruthsatz is 106-28 in four years at CovCath. He's from Sandusky, Ohio, and was an assistant under Bobby Hurley Sr. at St. Anthony, N.J., for three years.
No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.
21 Cooper Theobald 6-1 Sr. 12.4
3 Cole VonHandorf 6-1 So. 17.9
15 Andy Flood 6-4 Jr. 7.6
23 Grant Romes 6-2 Sr. 3.5
11 Bo Schuh 6-6 Sr. 13.4
The Colonels needed a fourth-quarter rally to get past Holmes in the 9th Region final and earn another trip to the state tournament. Ruthsatz said his team didn't play well throughout the region tournament until that second half against Holmes. "We haven't played to our capabilities yet," he said. VonHandorf and Schuh are the two returning starters off last year's state title team, which lost Sweet Sixteen MVP Nick Ruthsatz to graduation. Theobald has stepped in to replace Ruthsatz at point guard and has done "a tremendous job" at that position, according to his head coach. Scott Ruthsatz said his team likes to play fast and aggressive on offense and will go primarily with a man-to-man defense on the other end of the floor. Schuh is the team's leading rebounder with 7.4 boards per game.
History is not on the side of the Colonels, who will try to become the first school to win back-to-back state titles since Fairdale took the crown in 1990 and '91. "It's definitely going to be tough — no doubt about it," Ruthsatz said. "I think the one thing we can make sure of with these guys is that they're not just happy to be down there." CovCath trailed Clay County by seven points in last season's tourney opener. The coaches got on them at halftime, and things turned around. "They certainly remember the Clay County speech," Ruthsatz said. "It's branded in their minds."
PLAYER TO WATCH
With Nick Ruthsatz gone, VonHandorf has stepped up his game. The sophomore guard is CovCath's go-to guy in big-game situations, and Scott Ruthsatz credited him with taking over in the Holmes game to get the Colonels back to the state tournament. "He's very crafty and has a high basketball IQ," the coach said. "His role has kind of changed from being the beneficiary of Nick's driving and double-teaming — to where now, he makes shots and makes moves and makes plays for his teammates."
This is the Colonels' 10th state tournament and second in a row. They won their first Sweet Sixteen title last season, defeating Scott County in overtime in the state finals.
Region: 10th | Record: 25-9 | Enrollment: 1,530
Aric Russell is in his fifth season at Campbell County, his alma mater. He was previously at Newport for nine years, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010. He coached girls for three years. His overall record is 285-202.
No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.
3 Blake Losey 6-0 Sr. 13.1
15 Deondre Jackson 6-3 Sr. 16.9
32 Jake Franzen 6-1 Sr. 3.4
14 Matt Wilson 6-8 Jr. 14.6
10 Trent McGovney 5-11 Jr. 7.2
The Camels defeated Scott by 32 points to cap an impressive run in the 10th Region tournament and return to the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row. Losey, Jackson, Wilson and McGovney were all starters on last season's team, and Russell said the main difference in this year's squad is its improvement on defense, especially in the backcourt. Jackson leads Campbell County in scoring and shoots at nearly a 40-percent clip from three-point range. Wilson is a double-double machine inside for the Camels. Russell said his team prefers to play an "up-tempo" style and tries to use a lot of movement on the offensive end, sharing the ball until an open shot emerges. Campbell County is 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from three on the season.
CAMELS ARE CLICKING
Campbell County seems to be playing its best basketball at just the right time. The Camels have won their five postseason games by an average of 27 points — including a 44-point victory over Scott in the district finals and the 32-point win over the same team in the region title game. "I feel like we've clicked right at the right time," Russell said. "Going into districts, I felt like we were really starting to play well and picking up our defense. They're leaning on each other and really playing hard for each other. It's fun to see."
PLAYER TO WATCH
Wilson was a key player for the Camels as a sophomore last season. A year of experience and a growth spurt of 2-3 inches have only elevated his game. Wilson is one of the state's leading rebounders (11.3 per game) and the extra height has made him a better defender. "Another stat you don't see is he alters shots in the lane," Russell said. "You can really tell when he's not in the game, because he does so many things that change our team."
This is the Camels' fifth Sweet Sixteen. They've never won a game in the state tournament and lost 58-56 to Johnson Central in the first round last season.