Ware lifts NewCath in Region 9 final

Late shot sends 'Breds to state

By Terry Boehmker

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – In the Region 9 girls’ championship game on Sunday, Newport Central Catholic point guard Michaela Ware knew exactly what to do when she got the ball with the score tied and nine seconds left in overtime.

Ware dribbled down the right sideline, broke free off a screen set by one of her teammates and drove to the basket for a layup that gave NewCath a 48-46 win over Notre Dame at the Bank of Kentucky Center.

It was a play that Ware knew quite well. That’s how she scored the winning basket against Holy Cross in the semifinals of the 9th Region All “A” Classic last January.

“I just had to focus on finishing because there was only so many seconds left,” she said. “I just knew I had to be strong and, if I got fouled, go to the free throw line and hopefully put one in.”

Ware’s last-second layup sends NewCath (29-4) to the “Sweet 16” girls’ state tournament at Western Kentucky University for the first time since 2011. The Thoroughbreds will play 7th Region champion Louisville Butler (28-3) in a first-round game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Bowling Green.

NewCath entered the post-season playoffs as the top-ranked team in the 9th Region, but the Thoroughbreds had a tough time taking the title. They came from 10 points behind to beat Conner in the first round of the region tournament and then won games against Holy Cross and Notre Dame by two-point margins.

In Sunday’s championship game, NewCath took the lead only once early in the third quarter before pulling out the win in overtime.

“We went into this (game) feeling like we should win it, but I’m sure Notre Dame felt the same way,’” said NewCath coach George Stull. “But it is a big sigh of relief, too, because we were down almost the entire game and we were finally able to overcome that last hump at the end.”

Notre Dame took a 32-26 lead early in the fourth quarter, but NewCath battled back to tie it, 44-44, and send the game into overtime. Two players did all of the Thoroughbreds’ scoring during that period with senior forward Nikki Kiernan getting 11 points and Ware getting seven.

Both teams had a chance to win the game on their final possession of the fourth quarter. Notre Dame lost the ball after a bounce pass hit off the leg of an opposing player. A few seconds later, NewCath tried to inbound the ball under it’s own basket and lost it out of bounds.

On Notre Dame’s last possession in overtime, senior guard Paige Kellam broke free on a drive to the basket, but her shot was blocked by Kiernan. That gave the ball back to NewCath and set the stage for Ware’s game-winning layup off a screen set by teammate Alexus Mayes.

“When you get down to the stretch and you have a point guard like Michaela you want her to have it,” coach Stoll said. “It was just a simple high-ball screen that gives  her a chance to make a play, and she was able to do that.”

Notre Dame coach Wyatt Foust said he was at the game in January when Ware scored the winning basket against Holy Cross on that same play. But he didn’t prepare his players for it during a timeout with nine seconds left in overtime on Sunday.

“Having seen that before in a similar situation I absolutely should have known and had us prepared for that, and I didn’t,” Foust said. “That’s my fault. The kids played too hard to let something like that go.”

Kiernan and Kellam were the game’s leading scorers with 20 points each. Kiernan was named most valuable player on the all-tournament team for netting 66 points in three games.

Ware scored 13 points in the championship final with nine coming in the fourth quarter and overtime period.

“Nikki is our MVP for a reason, but our team rolls with Michaela,” Stoll said. “She’s what makes us go. Her importance can’t be stressed enough. She doesn’t even need to score anything just because she does so many other things.”

N. DAME 14-7-7-16-2–46
NEWCATH 9-9-8-18-4–48

NOTRE DAME (22-9): Stallman 1 0 3, Ogle 6 0 12, Kellam 7 6 20, Clemons 2 0 4, Smith 3 1 7. Totals: 19 7 46.

NEWCATH (29-4): Davenport 2 0 4, Ware 5 3 13, Lewis 1 2 4, Mayes 1 5 7, Kiernan 8 3 20. Totals: 17 13 48.

3-pointers: ND–Stallman. NCC–Kiernan.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: NewCath  – Nikki Kiernan (MVP), Michaela Ware, Alexus Mayes. Notre Dame – Paige Kellam, Elly Ogle.  Highlands – McKenzie Leigh, Alex Combs. Holy Cross – Dajah McClendon, Cassie Mayhaus. Conner – Taylor Gambrel. Boone County – Macey Ford. St. Henry – Jordan Miller. Dixie Heights – Liza Tibbs.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

More KY HS Sports
St. X beats Simon Kenton in state final
St. X beats Simon Kenton in state final

With the game tied in the seventh, Tyler Smith felt good about the Pioneers’ chances of an upset.

Simon Kenton headed to state final
Simon Kenton headed to state final

For all of Simon Kenton’s positive attributes in this year’s state tournament, scoring runs en masse was not among them.

Highlands falls in state tourney
Highlands falls in state tourney

Highlands was off to a promising start in the state softball tournament, winning its opening-round game on Thursday.

Late N. Bullitt rally dooms Conner
Late N. Bullitt rally dooms Conner

Conner jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but the Cougars’ inability to generate any insurance runs ended up being costly.

Highlands wins first game at state
Highlands wins first game at state

Highlands has not lost a game since April 22, and on Thursday the Bluebirds proved their winning ways were not going to change just because…

Simon Kenton walks off vs. Hazard in 10th
Simon Kenton walks off vs. Hazard in 10th

After watching 19 straight scoreless half-innings, Troy Roberts did not hesitate when he finally had a chance to wave a runner home.

Weather halts Simon Kenton game in the 7th
Weather halts Simon Kenton game in the 7th

We will find out how good Simon Kenton fares against the best baseball teams in the state in the next couple of days. What is undeniable is…

Conner blasts Boyd in state opener
Conner blasts Boyd in state opener

Prior to the Conner-Boyd County game, teams in the state baseball tournament were averaging just 2.4 runs per game.

Marcum pitches SK to state quarters
Marcum pitches SK to state quarters

It took Tristen Marcum exactly half the number of pitches to win the state opener as it did his teammate in the regional final.

Scott's ride finally ends at state
Scott's ride finally ends at state

After battling back from multiple-run deficits in a regional semifinal and the championship game last week, Scott did not have another…