CovCath pulls away from St. Henry in second half to reach semis

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Covington Catholic changed things up a little.

Knowing they were facing an imposing front line that featured St. Henry’s Braden Fedders and Matthew Resing, they decided to pack things in a zone and try and offset the Crusaders physicality.

While they took a nine-point lead into halftime and led by as much as 11 in the first half, the Colonels found themselves in a tight battle, leading 39-36 with 3:51 to go in the third.

But a change in defensive strategy from the original plan worked wonders, the Colonels pulling away for a 66-55 victory in the boys Ninth Region tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday at Truist Arena.

“We thought we just had to go to kind of what we call our zone early on. Then we thought we had to go man and be more aggressive on the ball, try to get deflections. Moving guys in and out, getting deflections and getting points. When they got it to three, those turnovers really took us up another level,” Colonels coach Scott Ruthatz said.

Ipsaro led the charge with 28 points in a physical game where he often found himself needing his teammates to pick him up off the ground.

“That’s what happens when you play St. Henry. They’re always going to bring it 100%, coach Faust is a good coach they know they have to be physical with us and that’s exactly what they did,” Ipsaro said.

Ipsaro hit the floor twice for good reason, on the receiving end of an offensive foul, the second one giving Fedders his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter. Ipsaro may stand at 5-foot-10, but his lower body build makes for a tough anchor in the paint.

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“He can guard from the point guard to the post player. He’s smart, taking a couple of charges. You got Evan and other teams don’t at this point. He can break a press by himself, he gets others involved,” Ruthsatz said. “Our composure down the stretch to making shots to getting into the one-and-one real early to not fouling. The experience helps too. Evan, Brady (Hussey) and Kascyl (McGillis) were part of that state tournament run last year.”

But at that 39-36 point in the third, it was a freshman doing a lot of damage in a 17-6 Colonels run to break the game open. Athens McGillis scored seven of his nine points in the contest during the run, a layup, floater and 3-point play that was finished off by a Ipsaro layup to make it 56-42 with a little more than four minutes to play in the game.

Covington Catholic’s Athens McGills had seven points during a big 17-6 second half run. Photo provided | Jenna Richey

“When Evan is getting denied like that, it’s my time to step up,” McGillis said. “I’m surrounded by great role models so I’m confident that I know what I’m doing.”

The Crusaders couldn’t regroup, getting no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

They had their chances though, especially early on, but two missed front ends of one-and-one’s and a 2-of-8 clip from three didn’t do them any favors.

CovCath led 16-12 after the first and remained ahead 33-24 going into the half.

A 7-0 Crusaders run to open the second half came on Rhet Ravenscraft scoring five straight followed by a Resing layup.

CovCath responded to get back up six, but Resing’s triple made it a three-point game with less than four to play in the third. Not much went right for the Crusaders from there.

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St. Henry’s Matthew Resing scored a team-high 17 points for the Crusaders. Photo provided | Jenna Richey

“Things just spiraled out of control. Turnovers. I think, five possessions, four out of five and we had one shot. All the other possessions were turnovers,” Crusaders coach David Faust said. “They got 15 points in the second half of turnovers. And they have a difference maker, Evan is one of the finest guards I’ve seen in all my years.”

The Crusaders season ends at 14-14, playing their best ball after an early seven-game losing streak as they finished winners in 12 of their last 19. They’re a senior heavy team, graduating seven on the roster this year.

“Guys stepped up. Couldn’t be any more proud of them. They’re a good group, they hang together and put a lot of extra time into it,” Faust said.

Resing led St. Henry with 17 points, also grabbing six rebounds. Ravenscraft added 11.

CovCath held a 22-9 edge in points off turnovers and a 22-14 advantage in points in the paint. St. Henry won the battle of the boards, 24-17 creating a 12-4 edge in second chance points.

After Ipsaro’s 28 that also came with four assists and four steals, Ayden Link added 12 points, Brady Hussey with 10. The Colonels shot 54% from the field, the Crusaders not far behind at 52%. CovCath was able to ice things at the free throw line, hitting 17-of-18, Ipsaro going 10-of-11 himself. The Colonels hit all eight of their attempts in the fourth.

Prior to knowing Wednesday’s result in the second game of the doubleheader between Cooper and Highlands, the question was posed to Ipsaro on who they’d want to face next.

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“I don’t care who wins. Coaches will put a good scout together for us and I think we’ll be ready to play no matter what,” Ipsaro said. “We don’t really look at who we’re playing. It’s just we need to get a win no matter how we can do it, just to come up with a win.”

It’s Cooper who they’ll get on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., the Jaguars outlasting the Bluebirds, 68-62 in overtime.

ST. HENRY — 12-12-15-16 — 55

COVINGTON CATHOLIC — 16-17-12-21 — 66

St. Henry (55) — Resing 17, Ravenscraft 11, Shea 8, Fedders 6, Grayson 5, Kaiser 5, Reis 3

Covington Catholic (66) – Ipsaro 28, Link 12, Hussey 10, A. McGillis 9, K. McGillis 4, Ruthsatz 3

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