Not even the writers in L.A. could have scripted a better game than what occurred in historic Rupp Arena on Sunday afternoon. Two district runner ups met to win a state title that no one gave either a chance. Scott County and Covington Catholic entered battle for the prestigious honor of being the Kentucky Boy’s State . Scott County defeated a tough Trinity team to get there as Covington Catholic defeated Bowling Green to make the final. Then the story starts.
Early in the first quarter Scott County’s Hines Jones drained three 3 point baskets and Tony Martini scored an early 5. Covington Catholic looked sluggish and tired which caused a long scoreless streak causing a 17-9 first quarter score with the Cardinals on top.
Going into the second quarter the Cardinals kept pouring it on and Covington Catholic continued its cold shooting streak giving the Cardinals the biggest lead of the game at 12. The Cardinals 7 footer Raekwon Long committed his 3rd foul with 3:54 remaining in the half but it didn’t affect the Cardinals as Hines Jones kept pouring it on slashing to the basket and finishing at the rim putting 15 in the scoring column after the first 16 minutes.
Covington Catholic adjusted by trapping Scott County’s guards and cut the lead to 9 at the half 27-18. Covington Catholic shot a dismal 27% from the field and 28% from deep while Scott County shot 39% from the field and 36% from deep but the Cardinals bench made the difference scoring 17 to the Colonels 0. The Cardinals also dominated the boards 21-13 in the first half with #32 Tony Martini grabbing 6 himself.
Starting the 3rd quarter guard Nick Ruthsatz drained a 3 to cut the lead to 6, 27-21. The Cardinals answered with a Martini basket to raise the lead back to 8 with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.The Colonels went on a 5-0 run cutting the lead to 3, 30-27 with 2:20 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Cardinals answered with Martini bucket in the paint and then on the defensive end Martini had a huge block leading to a Colonels turnover. The Cardinals took a 36-28 lead to the 4th quarter of the “Greatest Show on Earth”.
Then the script flipped as Covington Catholic willed their way with the help of Cardinal missed free throws and turnovers to help them start chipping into the lead. Four points by Mark Schult and 5 by freshman Cole VonHandorf kept the Colonels within striking distance but when Nick Ruthsatz drained a 3 point bucket at the 3:37 mark the pressure was on and the lead was cut in half down to three, 44-41.
After the media timeout Tony Martini sank two foul shots as the Covington Catholic Pep Club filled Martini’s ears with the club’s famous chant, “Shake Shake you know you ain’t going to make”. Cole VonHandorf fouled out at the 1:47 mark making it a no doubter that Scott County was going to cut the nets down in less that 1:36 left in the game but the Cardinals made a huge mistake as Teddy Ware fouled Nick Ruthsatz stopping the clock and allowing the Colonels a chance to cut into the 5 point lead. Ruthsatz, with ice in his veins sank both of the freebies making the score 46-43. On the Cardinals next possession Jones Hines was fouled and hit the first of two extending the lead to 4 with 1:33 left and Scott County’s best player and Mr. Basketball finalist Trent Gilbert made a huge mistake by fouling Nick Ruthsatz as only 9 seconds ran off the clock. With his ritual Ruthsatz drained both free throws, score 47-45 with 1:24 left. Parker Keller then committed a foul on Trent Gilbert a 92% free throw shooter and the last person coach Ruthsatz wanted to see at the line missed the front end of a one and one allowing the Colonels to tie or take the lead. Again the Cardinals helped the Colonels as Hines Jones fouled Ruthsatz stopping the clock and allowing him to sink both and tie the game at 47 apiece. An epic comeback in a pressure situation. The Cardinals had 42 seconds to win the game but the Colonels played outstanding defense forcing the Cardinals to call 3 team timeouts before Trent Gilbert fired a jumper with six seconds remaining. As the ball bounced off the iron Nick Ruthsatz collected the rebound and called timeout with 2 seconds remaining. The Colonels drew up a play and eventually threw up a prayer that was short and the story only gets better as the final went into an overtime.
In overtime the Colonels willed their way to victory behind Nick Ruthsatz who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Ruthsatz scored 8 points and a crucial steal in the extra 4 minutes to seal the deal for his father and the Covington Catholic Colonels. After leading the tournament with 95 points in three games Trent Gilbert sank a three to give the Cardinals their last lead as Nick Ruthsatz’s layup tied the game at 51-51 and the rest was history. Gilbert and his teammates made monumental mistakes by fouling and allowing the Colonels to score without time running off the clock. Gilbert and teammates also helped the Colonels by missing 4 three point attempts in overtime allowing the Colonels to take the lead and never look back. A tip in by Bo Schuh and free throws by Ruthsatz and Parker Keller sealed the deal to go up 59-51,cut down the nets and own the 2013-14 KHSAA State Championship banner.
Scott County once had a 12 point lead in the first half but the baller who got them to the final (Trent Gilbert) had an off night shooting 4 for 25 from the field after scoring 36 the night before. It may have been fatigue, pressure or even the Colonels smothering defense but Gilbert usually sinks his shot and will if he gets an inch of room.
Gilbert wasn’t the only one who was off on Sunday. Scott County shot 29% in the second half and 30% for the game compared to Covington Catholic’s 47% second half and 40% for the game. From behind the arc Scott County was cold shooting 19% and the Colonels shot 35% for the game. As for rebounds Scott County had 45 and the Colonels grabbed 36 helping Scott County to outscore the Colonels in the paint and in second chance points.
The star of the game and tournament was Nick Ruthsatz who not only sank pressure free throws but had 5 assists, 3 steals, and 6 rebounds to go along with 25 points. Ruthsatz isn’t flashy just a great player with a high basketball IQ that’s unselfish as well as clutch. Nick was very well deserving of winning the tournament MVP. Some may say that Scott County gave the game away but Covington Catholic never went away and are well deserving to be crowned the KHSAA Sweet 16 Kentucky State Champs.