For The Independent
MT. STERLING —
Despite Ashland’s significant advantage athletically, a patient and resilient Newport Central Catholic team relied upon fundamental play in capturing the Traditional Bank/Gateway Holiday Classic championship, 63-48, on Sunday.
“We talked about (fundamentals) after the game. This is a great team for us to play right now because they are so fundamentally sound,” Ashland coach Bill Bradley said. “We learned a lot about how you are supposed to play basketball tonight. They box out, they make easy passes — bounce passes, they set good screens (and) take good shots. … They stuck to their game plan. They are a fundamentally strong team that is real strong mentally and that’s something we’ve got to work on.”
Newport Central Catholic (10-0) held advantages in free throws (81.3 percent to 70.8 percent), offensive rebounds (12 to 10) and turnovers (10 to 15), which led to a 16-3 edge in points off turnovers and a 10-8 advantage in second-chance points.
“We pride ourselves on being a fundamentally sound team and tonight the key was to focus on our half-court defense and try to shut them down, and I think we did a good job with that,” said Newport Central Catholic coach George Stoll.
Ashland (6-3) gained control of the game at the outset as the Thorobreds missed their first 17 shots from the field. The Kittens took advantage of those missed opportunities and pulled out to 9-0 lead before settling for a 14-9 first-quarter advantage.
However, once the Thorobreds started hitting shots, they did not look back. After starting the contest 3-for-22 from the field in the opening quarter, NCC went 18-for-33 the rest of the way.
“There have been a couple games in a row now that we’ve gotten off to a slow start. A lot of those (misses tonight) were layups, but maybe we just came out a little bit tentative,” Stoll said. “All we needed was (to make) our first basket to get us going and once we made that we were good to go.”
“They shot a poor percentage (early) and I think a lot of that had to do with our defense,” Bradley said.
Newport Central outscored the Kittens 16-6 in the second quarter and pulled ahead for good on Ansley Davenport’s basket with 1:25 to play in the half.
That trend continued in the third quarter as the Thorobreds used a 14-4 run over the final 6:15 to push their lead to 39-27 by the end of the period.
Ashland closed the gap to five points with 5:06 to play after Alexis Robinson made a free throw, but NCC answered with a 6-2 run and the Kittens could get no closer than within six the rest of the way.
“You have to remember that we graduated seven seniors from last year, so we only have two players with any real varsity experience in Alexis (Robinson) and Haley-Sue (Foutch), and they had rough games tonight. Haley-Sue had a tough shooting night … but (Nikki Kiernan) played really good defense on her.”
Robinson was named to the All-Tournament team.
ASHLAND 14 6 7 21 — 48
NCC 9 16 14 24 — 63
Ashland (48): Foutch 6, Gransbery 4, Young 2, A. Robinson 21, Woodson 7, Roberts 2, M. Robinson 6. Total 48.
Newport Central (63): Davenport 9, Seibert 3, Ware 7, Lewis 5, Mayes 21, Kiernan 12, Zimmerman 0, Neace 6, Stutler 0. Total 63.
3-pointers: Ashland 3 (A. Robinson 2, Woodson), Newport Central 4 (Neace 2, Seibert, Lewis).