By Emily Hagedorn
PARK HILLS - Their bags were packed.
Covington Catholic High School basketball player Kurt Bovard passes through a line of seniors during a sendoff for the team, which is bound for the Kentucky Sweet 16 basketball tournament. The team left for Lexington after a pep rally.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
The bus was running.
The game was set.
All that was left for the Sweet 16-bound Covington Catholic basketball team was the proper sendoff.
They got that Wednesday at an end-of-the-school-day pep rally as fellow classmates reminded them why CovCath's motto is "With a spirit that will not die."
The CovCath boys "victory" chants reverberated in the gym like thunder.
In anticipation of the Colonels' game against Carlisle County at noon today in Lexington's Rupp Arena, the audience clapped in unison.
CovCath and Mason County are the only Northern Kentucky boys basketball teams to compete in the state championships. The Boone County women's team plays next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Rupp Arena.
Not one of 500 students looked disinterested as the team's players were announced.
While spurred on by cheers, the basketball team sat quietly in the gym. As the cheering got louder, a few players shyly smiled at one another.
"The spirit of the school has hasn't changed a bit," said Todd Etler, captain of the 1991-1992 CovCath team, the last team to go to state championships.
Student Body President Chuck Clenney rallied the crowd with a booming voice.
Clad in green, plastic bowlers, the CovCath men were told to hold on to their hats.
Though the holiday is over, the theme for today's noon match against Carlisle County is St. Patrick's Day.
Do they need luck to win?
"Every team knows they have to have a little luck," said senior point guard Matt Nestheide. "But we feel we have the talent to go all the way."
Clenney directed seniors to make a tunnel to the bus and underclassmen to line the school's driveway, while CovCath principal Mike Clines canceled school today in honor of the game.
Some think the Colonel's run won't end until the final match-up.
"It's been a great year, but it's not over yet," said senior forward Ross Votel. "I plan on being in Lexington Saturday night."
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