Photo credit to HawkCentral.com
Playing against the state’s top ranked team – and one that hasn’t lost a single game to an in-state opponent all season – can be pretty nerve-racking.
Covington Catholic seemed pretty calm and collected against Scott County on Sunday afternoon in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen championship at Rupp Arena, as it won 73-55 and proved that it was more than capable of knocking off the red-hot Cardinals.
“It’s a testament to our program and our assistant coaches for putting together a great game plan,” Covington Catholic coach Scott Ruthsatz said. “I thought we executed and matched their athleticism. It really came down to execution.”
“I’m so excited right now,” Colonels’ senior CJ Fredrick said. “I’m so proud of this team. All summer, this was the goal. We were determined to get here. To finally be sitting here as state champions, I’m so proud of this team.”
Fredrick – an Iowa signee – poured in a game-high 32 points, while Aiden Ruthsatz finished with 16 to lead the Colonels (35-4) to their first state championship win since 2014 and just their second in school history.
Fredrick, who scored 111 points throughout four games in the tournament and was named the Most Valuable Player, said that CovCath’s postseason run and all-around success in 2017-18 is all a testament to the hard work he, his teammates and coaches have all put in throughout the season.
“I just try to do whatever I can to help my team win,” Fredrick said. “As a basketball player, this is the ultimate goal. I’m so happy. This is probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. When you get a team and one goal and come together do it, it’s so special.”
Fredrick’s 111 points are the 11th
most all-time in Boys’ Sweet Sixteen history. Former Scott High School sensation Jake Ohmer, who scored 106 points in last year’s tournament, ranks 13th
When asked about his play in the Sweet Sixteen overall, he gave much credit to those around him that have helped transform him into the player he is today.
“It’s a testament to these guys as screeners getting me open,” Fredrick said. “All the hard work the coaches and I do in the summer – they prepared me for this point here. I just did what I’ve been doing all year and hitting open shots and creating plays for my teammates. I’m just so happy right now.”
Fredrick’s final game in a Covington Catholic uniform may have been bittersweet, but his career is just getting started as he’s signed to further his basketball playing days at the University of Iowa.
“I’m very excited to be a Hawkeye and do whatever I can to help them win,” said Fredrick. “I’m excited to be there and I hope they’re excited for me to be there.”
His coach had high praise for him – and his family – as the two celebrated a state championship victory.
“He’s unbelievable,” Ruthsatz said. “It’s a testament to him and his work ethic – and his parents let us mold him into the player he is today. I give them all the credit in the world. He has pushed himself to the absolute limit – and that’s what you saw today.”–Senior writer Tyler Mansfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TMansfieldST.–