Posted on 3/26/2017 at 9:55 a.m.

Late Jackson Free Throw Hands Crusaders First, Only Loss

Moeller finished its historic basketball season Saturday evening, suffering its first and only loss in the championship game of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Basketball Tournament at the Jerome Schottentstein Center on The Ohio State University campus.  The Crusaders fell to Massillon Jackson, 39-38, before a crowd of 11,750 at Value City Arena, ending Moeller’s quest to become Ohio’s first unbeaten DI state champion since Zanesville wound up 26-0 in the 1994-95 season.

It seems only fitting that the title game, which included five lead changes and seven ties, would eventually come down to the final possession.  Moeller (28-1) was called for a foul with 3.6 seconds left, and Kyle Young of Jackson (28-2) sank the first of two free throws to give his team a one-point lead.  Moeller had a final chance, but a lengthy shot from senior guard Keegan McDowell hit off the board and Jackson had earned its second win over Moeller in the state final.

Jackson also beat Moeller in its only previous title game appearance, wining 57-34 back in 2010.  Moeller – which entered the game ranked No. 15 nationally by MaxPreps and ended the regular season as the No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press DI state poll – also won state titles in 1999, 2003 and 2007.

Roger Bacon, a member of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division, also finished as state runner-up Saturday.  The Spartans (25-5), vying to win their first state crown since the memorable upset of Lebron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the 2002 state championship, lost to Villa Angela-St. Joseph, 54-52, in the Division III final.  VASJ (23-6) became the first team in Ohio boys’ basketball history to play in five straight state finals.  The Vikings, who won three of the last five crowns, also now have a record-tying seventh title overall.

The low score in the Moeller-Jackson game certainly should not have been a surprise to anyone who has followed the Crusaders this season.  Moeller – allowing opponents to score just over 40 points a game – was even better against Jackson.  Young, a Butler University recruit and Ohio Mr. Basketball runner-up, was held to 1-of-10 shooting before sinking what proved to be the game-winning free throw.  He finished with five points, but did grab 10 rebounds.  Both teams were 13-of-37 from the field.

Sophomore guard Miles McBride led Moeller with 15 points and nine rebounds, while senior guard Keegan McDowell added 14 point and grabbed eight rebounds.   The final game ends the best season in Moeller history record wise, and included an outright GCL South Division championship.  Coach Carl Kremer’s team has won at least a share of the coveted GCL South crown the last five seasons, winning it outright three times.  Moeller was ranked No. 1 in Greater Cincinnati in every poll, from preseason to the conclusion of the regular season.

Posted on 3/25/2017 at 9:50 a.m.

Crusaders Rally To Beat Pickerington Central In DI Semis

Junior guard Jeremiah Davenport came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points to pace four double-figure scorers as Moeller outscored Pickerington Central, 20-9, in the fourth quarter to record a come-from-behind 57-47 win over the Tigers in the Division I semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Basketball Tournament Friday evening at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus.

Moeller (28-0) is now one win away from completing a perfect season and earning the school’s fourth state hoops title. Standing in the way, though, is Massillon Jackson (27-2), which knocked off Lakewood St. Edward, 75-64, in Friday’s second DI semifinal.  Jackson prevented Moeller from winning a state title the last time the Crusaders advanced to the final – wining 57-34 over the Crusaders in the 2009-10 state championship game.  Tonight’s final is set for an 8:30 tipoff.

If victorious, Moeller will become the first Ohio DI school to finish undefeated since Zanesville went 26-0 in 1995. Moeller owns three state championships under coach Carl Kremer, winning in 1999, 2003 and 2007.  L:a Salle is the last GCL South team to bring home a state title, winning in the 2010-11 season.

Earlier today, Roger Bacon – a member of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division – will attempt to give the GCL its first title this season.  The Spartans (25-4) face Villa Angela-St. Joseph (22-6) at 5:15 p.m. in the Division III state final after defeating Archbold, 68-43, in Friday’s semifinals.  The Spartans are trying to win the third state title in school history and first since its historic win over Lebron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the 2002 state title game.  Roger Bacon won its first state crown in 1982.

For three quarters Friday, it looked as though Moeller’s unblemished season might come to an end.  The Crusaders trailed Pickerington Central (26-3), which entered the game riding a 13-game winning streak and was ranked No. 2 behind Moeller in the final regular-season Associated Press Di state poll, for much of the game.  

But Davenport, who had scored double figures only once this season (14 in a 60-24 win over Winton Woods on January 6), saved his best game for the most opportune moment – hitting 7-0f-8 field goals and grabbing a career-high seven rebounds in just 19 minutes for Moeller.  The 19 minutes played also matched a career high for Davenport, who played that same amount in a 69-46 win over Columbus Whitehall-Yearling, scoring four points and pulling down five rebounds back on December 16.

Sophomore guard Miles McBride added 13 points, while senior guard Keegan McDowell and junior guard Isaiah Payton each chi8pped in 10 for the Crusaders – including some key baskets down the stretch.  Payton sank a three-pointer to snap a 41-41 tie with 5:01 remaining, McDowell later followed with a three to make it 47-43, and then Payton sank another shot from long range to give Moeller a 50-45 lead with 2:30 left in the game.  Moeller outscored Pickerington Central, 16-6, in a 2:30 span down the stretch.

Davenport also gave the crowd of 11,091, which included a large section in Value City Arena from the Moeller High School student body, the game’s biggest moment to cheer when he grabbed a half court heave by Payton near the rim and laid it in as time expired in the first half to draw Moeller to within four at the break, 26-22.  The Crusaders had trailed by as many as eight points late in the second quarter.   It was Davenport’s basket with 2:11 remaining in the game that put Moeller in command, 62-45. 

All-Ohio sophomore point guard Jeremiah Francis led Pickerington Central with 16 points, but was limited to just 6-of-17 shooting by Moeller’s defense – which has been solid all season, allowing opponents to score just over 41 points per game.  University of North Carolina recruit Sterling Manley, a 6-foot-11 senior center, added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Posted on 3/24/2017 at 4:45 p.m.

Moeller Two Wins From Hoops State Title

Moeller looks to continue its historic basketball season early this evening, when the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Crusaders put perfection on the line against Pickerington Central in the Division I semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Basketball Tournament.  Tipoff is 5:15 p.m. at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus.

Lakewood St. Edward (23-5) plays Massillon Jackson (26-2) at 8:30 tonight in the other DI semifinal.  The winners meet at 8:30 p.m. Saturday for the state title.

Roger Bacon (24-4), a member of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division, plays earlier in the day – facing Archbold (22-5) in the Division III semis at 2 p.m.

The Crusaders (27-0), who opened the regular season with a win against Pickerington North, 63-46, on December 2 face the district counterpart in Pickerington Central (26-2), which ended the regular season ranked No. 2 behind Moeller in the final Associated Press state rankings.  Moeller is vying to become the first Ohio team to finish undefeated since Zanesville went 26-0 back in 1995.  But it won’t be easy against Central, which knocked off Pickerington North, 75-58, in the Region 3 final.  The Tigers, who have won 13 straight games,  are led by 6-foot-10 senior Sterling Manley, who has signed to play at the University of North Carolina.

Moeller has been solid all season, thanks to a stingy defense that allows opponents 41.3 points per game, and balanced scoring – with five players averaging 7.1 points or more per game.  The Crusaders defeated GCL South Division rival La Salle, 38-32, in the regional final – the third win this season for Moeller over La Salle – which gave the Crusaders three of their toughest games.

Posted on 3/18/2017 at 2:59 p.m.

Crusaders Defeat La Salle In All-GCL South Regional Final

As expected, Friday’s third meeting this season between Greater Catholic League South Division members Moeller and La Salle was close throughout – with the league’s top two scoring defenses making it difficult for the opposition to score on every possession.  In the end, like in the previous two games, its was Moeller that wound up on top, this time earning a 38-32 victory in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Basketball Tournament at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

The win in the Division I regional final keeps the perfect season alive for Moeller (27-0) and earns the Crusaders a trip to the DI Final Four in Columbus next week.  Coach Carl Kramer’s team will play either Pickerington Central or Pickerington North in the DI semifinals at 5:15 p.m. Friday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus.  The Final Four trek is Moeller’s first since advancing to the title game in the 2009-10 season, where the Crusaders fell to Massillon Jackson, 57-34.

Pickerington Central and Pickerington North meet in the Region 3 (Columbus) final at 7:30 tonight at Ohio Dominican University.  Massillon Jackson and Toledo St. John’s Jesuit play in the Region 1 (Akron/Toledo) title game tonight, while Garfield Heights and Lakewood St. Edward face off in the Region 2 (Cleveland) final.  The winners of those two games will meet in the second semifinal at 8:30 next Friday.  The state championship game is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26.

Moeller opened the regular season by defeating Pickerington North, 63-46, on a neutral court behind 17 points from senior guard Keegan McDowell ad 16 from sophomore guard Miles McBride.  And Friday against La Salle, McDowell again came up big to help Moeller continues its historic season.

McDowell scored all 10 of his points in the second half, as Moeller outscored its league rival, 11-9, in the third quarter – keyed by a late basket by Jeremiah Davenport to give the Crusaders a two-point lead heading into the final quarter. Moeller extended the advantage to as many as seven points, but the Lancers kept coming back behind senior guards C.J. Fleming – who finished with a team-high 10 points – and Tre Crigler – whose lone field goal, a three-pointer, pulled La Salle (24-4) to within five.

But the Crusaders responded down the stretch by converting free throws – going 13-of-19 for the game, including 5-of-8 from McDowell – who also had eight rebounds to lead his team.  Moeller outrebounded La Salle, 22-11, and McBride added nine points and junior guard Isaiah Payton chipped in seven.  The Crusaders have benefited all season from balanced scoring, with five players averaging 7.1 points or more per game during the regular season.

Moeller held La Salle to a season-low 32 points, limiting the Lancers to just 10-of-29 shooting (34.5 percent) and only 3-of-11 from three-point range.  The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak for coach Dan Fleming’s team, the last GCL South school to win a state basketball title – finishing the 2010-11 season by winning 14 straight games, including a win over Moeller in the regional final.  La Salle’s only losses this season are to Moeller (three times) and Madison, Wisc., 43-38, on December 30 in the title game of a Florida tournament.

Posted on 3/16/2017 at 5:06 p.m.

Berth In State Final Four On Line In Third Meeting This Friday

Moeller and La Salle, which have already played twice as part of the Greater Catholic League South Division regular-season schedule, will meet a third and final time this season with the highest stakes yet as the winner will advance to the Division I Final Four in Columbus next week.  Victories by the two GCL South schools in Wednesday’s regional semifinals in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Basketball Tournament have set up an all-GCL South final at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

Both emerged victorious, with Moeller (26-0) remaining undefeated with a 60-57 win over Mason in the first game.  La Salle (24-3) followed that game by building a double-digit lead and then getting a late basket to beat Springfield, 47-46, for its ninth consecutive win.  Moeller defeated La Salle twice during the regular season to win the league championship outright for the third time in five seasons (earning a share the other two seasons).

The Crusaders won 49-39 in the first meeting at Moeller, and then clinched the GCL South crown with a 47-41win at La Salle.  Defense again figures to be the key when the top two seeds meet for a third time.  La Salle leads the GCL in defensive scoring average, allowing opponents to score 40.7 points a game.  The Lancers held Princeton and Northmont to 28 and 33 points, respectively, in the previous two games.  Moeller gives up an average of just 41.7 points a game. 

Coach Carl Kremer knows it’s never easy to beat a team three times, especially a team that is playing as well as La Salle – extending its winning streak to nine games by limiting a talented Springfield team to 46 points.  The Lancers led by as many as 11 points the third quarter before Springfield (23-4) rallied back to take the lead.  La Salle senior Joe Hartmann scored with 13 second left to give La Salle a 47-46 lead, and a three-point shot by Springfield’s Michael McKay at the buzzer was no good.

Senior guards C.J. Fleming and Tre Crigler led La Salle with 15 and 10 points, respectively.  Hartmann finished with four points, but none more important than his game-winner.  You can bet Fleming is anxious for another shot at Moeller. The two-time GCL South Co-Player of the year missed the first meeting, sidelined with a shoulder injury, and then was held to 14points on 5-of-14 shooting in the second game.  Fleming leads the GCL South in scoring, averaging 16.8 points, while shooting 55.7 percent from the field to rank fourth.

In Moeller’s regional semifinal win, sophomore guard Miles McBride scored 22 points – going 7-of-8 from the field and hitting all three of his three-point attempts – to lead Moeller to the win over Mason.  Senior Caleb Canter added 12 points and junior Isaiah Payton chipped in 11 for Moeller, which allowed a season-high 57 points to Mason (21-3).  Both teams shot extremely well, with Moeller connecting on 22-of-33 shots (66.7 percent) and Mason knocking down 23-of-41 field goals (56.1).

Ticket for the regional final are available at both schools Friday for $7, with a portion of each ticket sold going back to the school.  Tickets also will be available at the Nutter Center Box Office for $8.  The winner advances to the OHSAA Division I Final Four, with the game set for Thursday, March 24 at 5:15 p.m. at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus.

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