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Posted on 2/12/2016 at 7:42 a.m.

Coveted League Championship To Be Determined In Final Games

With three Greater Catholic League South Division members ranked among the top four basketball teams virtually all season in The Enquirer’s Division I area coaches’ poll, it should come as no surprise that the prestigious GCL South championship won’t be decided until later tonight – when the final two league games of the 2015-16 regular season are played.

No. 2 La Salle (18-2, 4-1 GCL South), which owns a one-game lead over Elder and Moeller, can win the title outright with a victory at No. 3 Moeller (17-3, 3-2).  But it won’t be easy, as the Crusaders have lost just one home game in the last three-plus seasons – that a 42-41 non-conference defeat to Centerville last February.  Just over 100 tickets remained yesterday afternoon for the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.

No. 4 Elder (16-4, 3-2)  can earn a share of the league title if it defeats St. Xavier (5-15, 0-5) at home and Moeller beats La Salle.  Should that scenario occur, Elder, La Salle and Moeller would share the GCL South championship for the second straight year.  With a win, Elder also can extend its home winning streak to 20 games – having not lost at The Pit since January 31, 2014, when Moeller won 55-52 in overtime.

There’s little doubt that La Salle is the hottest team in Greater Cincinnati, along with No. 1 Mason – which is 18-1 overall, riding an 18-game winning streak and having wrapped up the Greater Miami Conference championship with a 15-0 record heading into tonight.  La Salle takes a 10-game winning streak to Moeller, with the Lancers’ lone loss in 2016 coming back on January 8 at Elder, 56-50.

La Salle won the first meeting against Moeller this season, 45-39, at home 10 days ago – getting a game-high 20 points from junior guard C.J. Fleming, the league’s leading scorer average 19.4 points a game.  Fleming and the Lancers outscored Moeller, 10-4, in the third quarter to snap a 20-20 halftime tie.  La Salle then moved into sole possession of first place with a 62-55 win at St. Xavier last Friday, coupled with Elder’s 48-43 home win over Moeller.

The Crusaders cruised through January, posting a 7-0 record and grabbing an one-game lead in the GCL South.  But back-to-back defeats on the road to La Salle and Elder last week dropped Moeller one game off the pace.  The Crusaders also lost senior point guard Nate Georgeton, who averages 4.5 assists, to a knee injury.  Sophomore Isaiah Payton has moved into that spot, and had 12 points in a 49-35 win over Lakota West last Saturday.

Eder hopes to finish a second consecutive season unbeaten at home with a win tonight.  The Panthers have been playing well of late, winning three in a row and five of their last six – the lone loss, 39-37, on January 29 at La Salle.  Elder is led by senior guard Frankie Hofmeyer, who averages 17.4 points to rank second in the league in scoring and is shooting 44.1 percent from three-point range (49-of-111).

Posted on 2/8/2016 at 3:43 p.m.

Elder-La Salle Could Meet Again In Sectional Final If Seeds Hold Up

While the Greater Catholic League South Division basketball championship won’t be determined until later this week, on the final Friday night of the regular season, all four league teams learned where and when they will begin their postseason journeys Sunday as the Division I sectional draw was held at Lakota West High School in West Chester.

If the seeds hold true, GCL South rivals Elder and La Salle are on course to meet in the sectional final with a berth to the district championship up for grabs.  But, Elder, La Salle and Moeller have their sights first set on winning the coveted GCL South crown – which will be determined Friday when La Salle travels to Moeller and Elder hosts St. Xavier.  If La Salle wins, the Lancers earn the title outright.  If not, it could end in a three-way tie again.

Here is a look at the postseason paths for all four GCL South basketball teams:

Elder – The Panthers (16-4) are the No. 5 seed among the five Cincinnati Division I sectionals.  Coach Joe Schoenfeld’s team will compete in the Cincinnati 2 sectional that will be played at  Lakota West High School.  Elder will face No. 27 Edgewood (6-13) in the first round at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 20.  If victorious, the Panthers will advance to meet No. 30 Glen Este (3-17) at 6 p.m. on February 24.

La Salle – The Lancers (18-2), riding a 10-game winning streak and holder of a one-game lead in the GCL South entering Friday, are the No. 2 seed and in the same bracket as Elder, the Cincinnati 2 sectional.  Coach Dan Fleming’s team will meet No. 29 Western Hills (4-10) in the first round at 7:30 p.m. on February 20.  If La Salle wins, it will advance to meet No. 31 Colerain (1-18) at 7:30 p.m. on February 24.

If Elder and La Salle win their first two games, the GCL South rivals will face each other in the sectional final at 7:30 on Saturday, February 27.

Moeller – The Crusaders (17-3) are the No. 3 seed and will play in the Cincinnati 3 sectional at Hamilton High School. Moeller, which went undefeated in January and was ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Division I state poll last week, open sectional play against No. 25 Sycamore (4-16) at 7:30 on Thursday, February 18.  Coach Carl Kremer’s team, if victorious, would meet No. 26 Winton Woods at 7:30 p.m. on February 23.

St. Xavier – The Bombers (5-15) are the No. 21 seed and will play in the Cincinnati 1 sectional at Lakota West.  St. Xavier opens sectional play against No. 23 Withrow (6-13) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 19.  If the Bombers’ win the opener, they will advance to take on overall No. 1 seed Mason (17-1) in the second round at 7:30 p.m. on February 23.  The Bombers host Bishop Fenwick at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

Posted on 2/7/2016 at 5:59 p.m.

Former Bombers’ Standout Vies To Add NFL Championship To Impressive Resume

St. Xavier High School graduate Luke Kuechly, a standout linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, will attempt to lead his team to its first NFL title when he plays in Super Bowl 50 tonight.  The NFC champion Panthers face the AFC champion Denver Broncos at 6:30 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.  The game will be televised on CBS (Local 12) with The Super Bowl Today pre-game show set to begin at 2.

If the Panthers win, Kuechly will become the third Greater Catholic South Division alum since 2000 to play on a Super Bowl winning  team, and the second from St. Xavier – joining former Bomber Rocky Boiman, a 1998 St. Xavier graduate who was a member of the Indianapolis Colts’ team that beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI in Miami on February 4, 2007.  Boiman, also a linebacker, had an outstanding college at Notre Dame.

Speaking of Indianapolis, that was the site of Super Bowl XLVI four years ago – when former Moeller star Greg Jones was a member of the New York Giants winning team after being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft that year out of Michigan State University.  Jones wound up starting at linebacker after Jonathan Goff was sidelined with an injury.  The Giants defeated New England, 21-17, at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012.

Kuechly, regarded by many NFL analysts as the league’s best linebacker, is enjoying another outstanding season.  The ninth pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Kuechly is a three-time first-team All-Pro who had a career-best four interceptions in  the regular season before returning two for touchdowns in the NFC  playoffs, leaving him behind only Asante Samuel (four) and Hall of Famer Willie Brown (three) in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Captain America” by Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton, Kuechly has been an impact player every year. He was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 after leading the league in tackles with a franchise-record 205 that season, and then became the youngest player to be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.   In 2014, Kuechly led the NFL in tackles again, with 153, and won the Butkus Award as the NFL’s top linebacker for the second time in his young career.

At St. Xavier, Kuechly was a member of the Bombers’ second state championship team as a junior in 2007 – helping coach Steve Specht’s team post a perfect 15-0 record, outscoring the opposition, 452-144, that season.  St. Xavier defeated Mentor, 27-0, in the state final.  Kuechly was a two-time All-GCL South performer at linebacker.  St. Xavier won its first big-school state title in 2005.

Posted on 2/7/2016 at 12:29 p.m.

Eight Panthers Advance To Weight-Class Finals To Earn Team Title

Just four days after defeating Greater Catholic League South Division rival Moeller, 32-27, in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Dual Meet Region 8 final, the Panthers had eight wrestlers advance to their respective weight-class finals – winning three of the matches – to finish first in the 10-school GCL Wrestling Championships held Saturday at Bishop Fenwick High School in Franklin.

Elder finished with a meet-best 220.5 points, followed by Moeller, 193.0; La Salle, 107.0; St. Xavier, 102.0; and Dayton Carroll, 78.0, rounding out the top five.  Saturday’s varsity competition included the four GCL South members, along with competitors from the six schools comprising the GCL Co-Ed Division, Archbishop McNicholas, host Bishop Fenwick, Carroll, Kettering Alter, Purcell Marian and Roger Bacon.

Austin Murphy (126 pounds), Samuel Williams (145) and Ti’Ric Evans (170) each won individual GCL championships for Elder, while teammates D.J. Melillo (113), Jake Meridieth (138), Robby Oswald (160), Antonio McCloud (182) and Alex Moore-Nash (285) all advanced to the championship match.  Elder’s Chucky Lipps (120), Nino Salamone (132) and David Mazdapour (195) each won their third-place matches. 

All seven of Moeller’s wrestlers who advanced to the final match took home GCL championships – Jordan Ward (113), Jake Thompson (138), Jacoby Ward (152), Sam Wyche (182), Trevor Hankins (195), Jack Meyer (220) and Joe Hensley (285).  Hensley defeated Moore-Nash of Elder in the final, winning by a major decision, 15-2.  Moore-Nash narrowly beat Hensley, 3-2, in Wednesday’s dual meet final at Elder.

La Salle also had three of its wrestlers win titles, Lucas Byrd at 106, Corey Shie at 132, and Blake Wilson at 160.  Jared Thiemann of La Salle advanced to the 120 final, while three members of the St. Xavier team earned their way to weight-class finals – Jack Heyob, 170; Paul Hulefeld, 195; and Mike Gerbus, 220.  Moeller wrestlers dominated the last four weight classes, winning GCL titles at 182, 195, 220 and 285.

For complete results, visit www.baumspage.com.

Up next for the GCL South wrestling teams is the Division I sectional tournament to be held February 19-20 at Hamilton and Lebanon high schools.  The top four places in each weight class will advance to the Southwest District Division I Championships February 26-27 at Trent Arena In Kettering.

Posted on 2/7/2016 at 9:22 a.m.

Elder, Moeller Step Out Of League Play To Record Victories

One night after facing each other in a key Greater Catholic League South Division matchup at a sold-out and frenzied Pit, Elder and Moeller took a night off from league play to post non-conference victories Saturday – Elder traveling to Greater Dayton for a 62-55 win over Clayton Northmont, and Moeller returning to its home court to snap a two-game losing streak with a 49-35 win over Lakota West.  Elder beat Moeller, 45-39, Friday.

St. Xavier was the other GCL South team in action, and the Bombers dropped a close game at Walnut Hills, 45-41.  La Salle, the hottest team in the GCL South if not Greater Cincinnati after putting together a 10-game winning streak to move into first place in the league, had the night off.  The Lancers play at Dayton Chaminade-Julienne on Tuesday before traveling to Moeller next Friday for the regular-season finale.

Here is a look at the Saturday games involving GCL South teams.

Elder 62, Northmont 55 – The Panthers, ranked No. 5 in The Enquirer’s Division I area coaches’ poll entering play last week, outscored Northmont in each of the first three quarters to build a 14point lead entering the fourth quarter.  The win is the third straight for coach Joe Schoenfeld’s team, which is tied with Moeller in second place behind GCL South leader La Salle entering the final week of the regular season.

Elder (16-4), which welcomed senior defensive standout Peyton Ramsey back to the lineup against Moeller after missing four straight games with a foot injury, can earn a share of the GCL South title with a victory over St. Xavier at home Friday and a Moeller win over La Salle, which owns a one-game league lead.  Against, St. Xavier, Elder will be looking to extend its home winning streak to 20 games over the last two seasons.

Moeller 49, Lakota West 35 – The Crusaders snapped a two-game losing streak by winning again at home, where coach Carl Kremer’s team has lost only once in the last three-plus seasons and is a perfect 7-0 this season.  Senior guard Trey McBride, held without a point for the first time this season at Elder, scored a team-high 16 points. Sophomore Isaiah Payton, starting for injured point guard Nate Georgeton, added 12 points.

The Crusaders, who began last week ranked No. 1 in The Enquirer’s Division I rankings and No. 3 in the Associated Press DI state poll, suffered league losses at La Salle and at Elder last week to drop one game back of the Lancers entering the final week of the regular season.  Moeller (17-3) can earn a share of the GCL South championship for the fourth consecutive year if the Crusaders defeat La Salle at home Friday night.

Walnut Hills 45, St. Xavier 41 – It has been a season filled with a plethora of closes losses in non-conference games for the Bombers, with the latest edition coming at No. 8 Walnut Hills.  St. Xavier (5-15) has lost eight of 10 games out of the league by six points or fewer, with two setbacks coming by one point and two by three.  The Bombers stay out of league play Tuesday, hosting Bishop Fenwick looking to snap a five-game skid.

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