HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- The Covington Catholic basketball team left absolutely no doubt about its skills Monday night at BB&T Arena.
Senior guard CJ Fredrick had 24 points and seven assists as CovCath defeated Dixie Heights 74-31 to win the Ninth Region title.
"Everybody wanted this 110 percent," CovCath senior guard Aiden Ruthsatz said. "Everybody was playing their hearts out Saturday night (in the semifinal against Cooper), but this is the only thing we wanted all year. We've been working since the day we lost last year."
CovCath (31-4) advances to play the Third Region champion at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Whitaker Bank/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Boys Sweet Sixteen Tournament at Rupp Arena. The Third Region final is Tuesday night between Apollo and Owensboro Catholic.
CovCath, the regional runner-up in the last two seasons, won the state title in 2014. The Colonels, arguably Greater Cincinnati's top team all season regardless of state or division, knew what the expectations were all winter.
"It's fantastic for the kids for the amount of time they put in," coach Scott Ruthsatz said. "You see what they are capable of. I couldn't be prouder of a group of guys."
"This is huge," added CovCath senior center Jake Walter, a Xavier University signee. "…We've been working for almost a year; it's a great feeling to go back (to state)."
Fredrick, an Iowa signee, was named the Ninth Region Tournament Most Valuable Player. He made three pointers at the buzzer to end the first and second quarters, and he finished nine of 16 from the field, including three 3-pointers.
"I had a lot of fun," Fredrick said. I can't even describe it."
Aiden Ruthsatz, who had 14 points, four steals and three assists and senior guard AJ Mayer, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals, were also named to the Ninth Region All-Tournament Team.
CovCath led Dixie Heights 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.
"We started out a little slow," Scott Ruthsatz said. "We all want it a little easier. We want the heart rate to go down. At the end of the day our guys just locked in."
CovCath turned up the heat defensively in the second quarter, ending it with a 10-0 run to outscore Dixie heights 20-6.
CovCath had 30 points in the paint compared to just six for Dixie Heights. CovCath also scored 27 points off Dixie Heights' 22 turnovers. CovCath had 15 assists to just 11 turnovers.
Dixie Heights (18-15) was led by Tyler Schreck with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. He was named to the Ninth Region All-Tournament Team. Jamin Shumate added 10 points for Dixie Heights.