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CovCath vs. Scott County for Sweet 16® title again

March 17, 2018 FieldsColumn

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CovCath’s Mayer brothers — Michael, left, and AJ scramble for a loose ball against Oldham County. (KHSAA photo)

BY MIKE FIELDS

For the second time in five years, Covington Catholic and Scott County will battle it out for the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16® championship.

They’ll face off Sunday at 2 p.m. in Rupp Arena.

CovCath (34-4) is riding a 22 game winning streak.

Scott County (37-1) has won 29 in a row. Its only loss was to Cincinnati Moeller.

When they clashed in the 2014 finals, CovCath rallied to beat the Cardinals 59-51 in overtime. Nick Ruthsatz, son of Colonels Coach Scott Ruthsatz, was MVP of the tournament. He had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the title game.

“They’re really good,” Hicks said of this year’s CovCath team. “I think they’re better than they were in ’14. And they’ve still got a dad-burned Ruthsatz.”

That would be senior point guard Aiden Ruthsatz, Nick’s brother.

Hicks said CovCath’s size and strength will also present problems. The Colonels’ lineup includes 7-foot-1, 260-pound senior Jake Walter, 6-3 senior A.J. Mayer and his brother, 6-5 sophomore Michael Mayer.

“And they’ve got (C.J.) Fredrick, who can rise up and shoot it. We can’t let him go crazy.”

The 6-4 Frederick, a Mr. Basketball finalist who has signed with Iowa, leads the Colonels with a 22.5 scoring average.

Cooper Robb is the only senior in Scott County’s starting lineup. (KHSAA photo)

“We’re not near as athletic as them, and not as big a strong,” Hicks said. “But shoot, we aint’ gonna lay down.”

Scott Ruthsatz said Scott County presents its own set of problems, notably 6-7 Michael Moreno and 6-2 Cooper Robb.

“Moreno is multi-dimensional,” Ruthsatz said. “He’s can dominate inside and can go outside.

“Robb is just a great athlete. Having a guy like that, who can basically guard 1-through-4, run the point, play the wing, whatever he needs to do. Those guys who are so versatile are dangerous.”

Overall, Ruthsatz sees Scott County’s guards, including Robb, Glenn Covington and Diablo Stewart, as the key.

“They’ve got a great group of shooters, so you gotta get really high on the perimeter,” he said. “They play really good, really aggressive defense, too, and we’ve got to make sure we address that.”

As for Hicks’ claim that this CovCath team is better than the 2014 state champs, Ruthsatz hedged on that.

“I’m not sure about comparing teams,” he said. “It’s tough to do. Obviously we have a ton of talent on this team. That’s a testament to our program. But it’s also a testament to the 2014 team. They really solidified us as a contender, in making sure the foundation was well set.”

No matter what Hicks said, Ruthsatz isn’t about to underestimate Scott County.

“I know Billy will have his guys ready.”

This is the sixth time in the last 20 years Hicks has had Scott County in the finals. The Cards won it all in 1998 and 2007.

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