Posted On: 03/19/18 8:00 AM
We reached the end. After 16 games in 5 days at Rupp Arena, Covington Catholic ended the 2017-18 season as the KHSAA State Champions. Here are some rapid fire takeaways from the Sweet 16:
1. The Best, most talented team won: Covington Catholic starts two high major Division I signees (Jake Walter and CJ Fredrick) and a point guard signed to a good D2 school (Aiden Ruthsatz). They also have a junior with an offer from Bellarmine (Nick Thelen) and a sophomore who has D1 basketball interest but is an elite high major football player (Michael Mayer). They also have a D1 quarterback signee (A.jJ. Mayer) who just happens to be a good basketball player too. In summary, the team is loaded with college athletes and big time talent. Once the Colonels got their full roster available when football season ended, they only lost one more game all season and that was to an out of state team. They dominated the state tournament including a running clock in the semifinals.
2. Scott County will be back and could be better next year. The Cardinals return most of their key pieces from the team that finished the state runner-up. They will have to replace Cooper Robb but return Michael Moreno, Bryce Long, Diablo Stewart, Lorenzo Williams, Cam Fluker and Glenn Covington from their rotation players. They also could see big leaps from sophomores Terrin Hamilton and Jaylen Barber. The talent level in Kentucky is really high right now but will see a dip next season. If you were to rank teams right now for 2018-19, Scott would likely be first with Trinity a close second.
3. Warren Central and Oldham County ran out of gas. The Dragons and Colonels were both notorious for short benches and relying on their starters to carry the bulk of the scoring load for their teams. It finally caught up to them on Saturday night. Both teams were stuck in neutral from the beginning and didn’t get much better. Scott County ran over Warren Central from the beginning and Covington Catholic wound up putting a running clock on Oldham. The Sweet 16 is always a grind and depth is important. That showed with both of these semifinalists.
4. The talent level in Kentucky is about to take a hit. The 2018 class is full of kids who made an impact at the state tournament. Whether they’re heralded like Fredrick and Andrew Taylor or lesser known players like Jackson Gibson and Jordan Cousin, graduation is going to hit several teams very hard. Seniors like Trevon Faulkner and Steven Fitzgerald have been playing varsity basketball since their 8th grade years. Players like Adam Kunkel and Mickey Pearson have been impact players for several years. The 2019 class is top heavy. There are 9-10 kids who will be D1 signees this time next year. The 2020 class is relatively unknown right now. 2021 is supposed to be the next great class. Regardless of how any of those classes play out, folks need to realize that the 2018 class is going to be greatly missed all over the Commonwealth.
5. The first 3 days of the 2018 Sweet Sixteen were some of the best we’ve seen. The tournament was full of great games from the Scott County/Trinity classic on Wednesday to the Triple OT game between Pikeville and John Hardin to the game winner from Oldham County’s Travis Henderson to send them to the final 4. The semifinals were blowouts and the final was not as competitive as most would have hoped but the first two rounds at Rupp were full of memorable games and finishes.