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Posted on 3/23/2019 at 10:24 a.m.

Crusaders Advance To State Title Game For Third Straight Year

Moeller basketball coach Carl Kremer thought this year’s team would be good, but even the veteran Crusaders’ leader said he never could have envisioned this year’s team being as good as it has been all season.  And, after shooting 78.9 percent from the field (15-of-19) in the first half against a talented and state tournament savvy Lakewood St. Edward in a convincing 72-52 victory early Friday evening in the Division I state semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament at the Jerome c. Schottenstein Center in Columbus, the Crusaders are one win away from the school’s first perfect season and a successful defense of the state championship.

Senior Alec Pfriem recorded his first career double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, senior Miles McBride added 13 points, sophomore Alex Williams came off the bench to score 12, and junior Max Land chipped in 11 points and five rebounds to help Moeller cruise past the 11-time state semifinalist making its fifth appearance in the DI Final Four in the last eight seasons.   Moeller, which has won 26 of its 28 games by double figures this season, last suffered a defeat to an Ohio team in the 2016-17 final, 39-38, to Massillon Jackson, a loss that prevented Moeller from perfection that season.  The Crusaders won the title last year with a 83-65 win against Solon.

Moeller (28-0) will attempt to win its fifth basketball state title (also having won in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2018) when it meets Akron St. Vince-St. Mary (24-3) in the state final at 8:30 tonight at OSU.  The Crusaders defeated St. Vincent-St. Mary, 99-62, at Moeller way back on December 9, but this is not the same team that faced Moeller on that late Saturday afternoon after having its bus break down on the way to Greeter Cincinnati.  Pfriem scored 22 points, while McBride added 20 in the victory.

The Crusaders are attempting to become the first Greater Cincinnati big-school team to finish undefeated since Hamilton Taft went 27-0 and won the Class AA state title in 1962.  Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, a Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division member, is the last team from Southwest Ohio to end a season without a loss – going 27-0 at the Class AA level to win the 1970 state crown.  Zanesville is the last team in the state to finish unblemished, capturing the DI state crown in 1995 with a 26-0 record.  Moeller, which wound up 28-1 in 2016-17, is a combined 83-4 the last three seasons.

St. Vincent-St. Mary, the alma mater of NBA star Lebron James, beat Olentangy Liberty, 58-49, in Friday’s second semifinal.  The Fighting Irish have not lost since February 2, a 75-72 setback to Kennedy Catholic from Heritage, Pa.  GCL  Co-Ed member Roger Bacon staged one of the most memorable victories in an Ohio state final back in 2002, when the Spartans beat the James-led SV-SM in the DII state final, 71-63,  before a then state-tournament record crowd of 18,375 at The Ohio State University.  The Fighting Irish had been 75-0 against Ohio teams before that game, in which a junior James scored a game-high 32 points.

In St. Edward (19-8), the DI state football champion and one of the hottest teams in the state tournament having won seven straight and eight of its last nine, Moeller did what has been a trademark all season – getting off to an insurmountable fast start.  McBride, the West Virginia University signee who was named first team All-Ohio earlier in the week, scored nine of his points in the first quarter (finishing a perfect 5-of-5 from the field) as Moeller hit 7-of-8 field goals in the quarter before going 8-of-11 in the second eight minutes to take a 38-25 lead at intermission.  An 8-0 run that sparked a 17-6 stretch over the two quarters that put Moeller in front for good.

The Crusaders finished by connecting on 26-of-39 shots (66.7percent) for the game, including 5-of-11 from three-point range and 15-of-19 in free throws.  Pfriem, the GCL South Division leading scorer averaging 15 points and a third team All-Ohio selection heading to Bellarmine University, also added five assists.  Williams, who scored 13 points in the Crusaders’ 47-33 win against Lakota East in the regional semifinals and then poured in 16 in a 59-41 victory over Centerville in the regional final, both team highs, made the most of his 19 minutes – finishing with a dozen.

Moeller, which outscored St. Edward, 21-0, in bench points and had nearly half of its points, 34, in the paint, will now attempt to become the first Cincinnati big-school team to win back-to-back state titles since GCL South colleague Elder did it in 1973 and 1974, when earning consecutive Class AAA state crowns.  No Cincinnati-area team has won two straight at the DI level.  Juniors Devontae Blanton and Grant Huffman led St. Edward with 15 points each, while  senior Demetrius Terry and Montorie Foster each add 12.

Posted on 3/20/2019 at 6:43 p.m.

Teammate Pfriem Named To Third Team By Statewide Media

Moeller senior guard Miles McBride, who has helped guide the Crusaders to a perfect 27-0 record entering Friday’s state semifinals in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament, has been named to the Division I All-Ohio boys’ basketball first team that was announced Wednesday in Columbus by a statewide media panel.  The team was selected by member of the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.

McBride, who averages 14.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and a Greater Catholic League South Division-leading 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals, was named to the first team, while teammate and Crusaders’ senior Alec Pfriem was named to the third team.  Pfriem leads the Greater Catholic League South Division in scoring, averaging 15.0 points per game.  He also averages 3.4 assists and 6.3 rebounds to rank second and third in those categories, respectively, in the league.

The Moeller duo will lead their team against Lakewood St. Edward in the DI Final Four at 6 p.m. Friday at the Jerome C. Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus. Olentangy Liberty faces Akron St. Vince-St. Mary in the second semifinal, at 8.  The DI state final is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday.   Moeller currently owns a 47-game winning streak dating back to December 2017.  The Crusaders are the defending DI state champions and own a 82-4 record the last three seasons.

McBride has signed to play at West Virginia University, while Pfriem is a Bellarmine University recruit.  Lakota East senior Bash Wieland is the only other Grater Cincinnati player named to the DI teams, earning special mention.   Wieland plans to join Pfriem at Bellarmine this coming season.

2019 DIVISION I BOYS BASKETBALL ALL-OHIO

FIRST TEAM
Ben Roderick, Powell Olentangy Liberty, 6-foot-5, sr., 25.9 points per game; VonCameron Davis, Columbus Walnut Ridge, 6-5, jr., 27.5; Devon Grant, Lorain, 6-0, sr., 26.1; Kaleb Martin, Green, 5-9, sr., 19.4; Samari Curtis, Xenia, 6-4, sr., 34.4; Bo Myers, Logan, 6-5, sr., 27.4; Miles McBride, Moeller, 6-2, sr., 14.1; Andre Gordon, Sidney, 6-2, sr., 22.6; Alek West, Sylvania Northview, 6-4, sr., 20.2; Andre Harris, Lyndhurst Brush, 6-3, sr., 17.0.

SECOND TEAM
Kyle Goessler, Brunswick, 6-2, sr., 22.4; Javohn Garcia, Pickerington Central, 6-3, sr., 20.1; Luke Floriea, Mentor, 5-10, jr., 19.1; Lunden McDay, Akron St, Vincent-St. Mary, 6-3, sr., 16.5; Ra'Heim Moss, Springfield, 6-4, sr., 18.0; Michael Kreill, Vandalia Butler, 6-1, sr., 15.3; Jack Sawyer, Pickerington North, 6-5, soph., 22.2; Josiah Fulcher, Lima Senior, 6-1, jr., 17.1; Eddie Colbert, Toledo Whitmer, 6-6, sr., 20.1; Kade Ruegsegger, Dover, 6-3, jr., 16.2.

THIRD TEAM
Samuel Emich, Copley, 6-6, sr., 16.8; Sencire Harris, North Canton Hoover, 6-4, fr., 20.4; Matt Allocco, Hilliard Bradley, 6-4, jr., 16.3; Dominiq Penn, Dublin Coffman, 6-0, jr., 19.9; Sean Marks, Lewis Center Olentangy, 5-10, sr., 19.8, 6-2, sr., 14.1; Alec Pfriem, Cincinnati Moeller, 6-4, sr., 15.0; Jackie Harris, Toledo St. Francis, 6-7, sr., 21.8; Taevon Pierre-Louis, Lorain, 6-6, sr., 18.0; Eric Hanna, Olmsted Falls, 6-0, sr., 18.8; Anthony Mazzeo, Massillon Jackson, 6-3, sr., 17.1.

SPECIAL MENTION
Brady Snyder, Canal Winchester; Max Martz, Upper Arlington; Jeremiah Keene, Westerville North; N’Keeley Elmore, Columbus Northland; Bryson Lane, Olentangy Orange; Jordan McMillian, Westerville South; D.J. Dial, Lyndhurst Brush; John Hugley, Lyndhurst Brush; Keaton Williams, Dresden Tri Valley; Ian Sexton, Dover; Jake Maranville, Uniontown Lake; Derrick Anderson, Youngstown Boardman; Julian Jackson, Massillon Perry; Todd Simons, Austintown Fitch; Jayvon Maughmer, Chillicothe; Bash Wieland, Liberty Township Lakota East; Garrett Denbow, Ashland; Devin Williams, Toledo Start.

HONORABLE MENTION
Garvin Clarke, Euclid; Kenny Ganley, Brecksville-Broadview Heights; D.J. Harrell, Cleveland East Tech; Dakota Cochran, Shaker Heights; Mike Bekelja; Damion Williams, Willoughby South; Chad Rogers, Mentor; Jordan Soyars, Barberton; D.J. Jones, Copley; Evan Bainbridge, Stow-Munroe Falls; Matt Salopek, Akron Hoban; Jarmond Hogg, Akron Ellet; Kobe Johnson, Canton McKinley; Will Hyde, Massillon Jackson; Christian Parker, Canton GlenOak; Brett Martin, Massillon Washington; Dom McGhee, Warren Harding; 
Caleb Bell, Logan; Brandon Noel, Chillicothe; Jacob Drees, Hilliard Davidson;Ryan Hall, Kettering Fairmont; Ronnie Hampton, Huber Heights Wayne; D'Marco Howard, Hamilton; Max Land, Cincinnati Moeller; Landen Long, Mason; Shaunn Monroe, Fairborn; Mo Njie, Centerville; Tehree Horn, Sylvania Southview; Isaac Elsasser, Bowling Green; Ryan Nunn, Findlay; Max Denman, Whitehouse Anthony Wayne; DaSean Nelson, Toledo Rogers; Sam Clear, Sylvania Northview.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Samari Curtis, Xenia

COACH OF THE YEAR
Bob Krizancic, Mentor

Posted on 3/17/2019 at 8:40 p.m.

Williams, Land, McBride Key Win Over Centerville, Extend Streak

For the second straight game, sophomore Alex Williams came off the bench to provide a spark, scoring a game-high 16 points while teammates Max Land and Miles McBride combined to score 28 points, grab 11 rebounds and sink all nine of their free-throw attempts to lead Moeller to a 59-41 victory against Centerville and win a third straight Cincinnati Division I regional championship in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament on Saturday night at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.

The victory sends the defending Division I state champions back to the Final Four in Columbus and a matchup with Cleveland region winner Lakewood St. Edward in the state semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at the Jerome C. Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus.

Moeller, which has now won 14 straight postseason games and 47 games in a row overall dating back to late December 2017, last lost to an Ohio team on March 25, 2017 when the Crusaders fell to Massillon Jackson, 39-38, in the DI title game – the only setback that season.  Moeller came back last season to defeat Solon, 83-65, in the state final and win the fourth state basketball championship in school history.

St. Edward (18-8) advanced with a  win against Green last night at Cleveland State University to win the Cleveland regional and advance to the Final Four.  Powell Olentangy Liberty (24-4), the Columbus winner, will face Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (23-3), the Akron/Toledo region winner, in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday.  Olentangy Liberty advanced with a 64-58 win over Pickerington North at Ohio Dominican University, while St. Vincent-St. Mary defeated Lima Senior, 79-63, in its regional final at the University of Akron.

The DI state final is 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

In Columbus, Moeller and Purcell Marian will attempt to make it 3-for-4 for the Greater Catholic League at the state basketball tournament.  Mount Notre Dame – a member of the Girls’ GCL - capped off another outstanding season by using a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter to blow open a close game and post a 52-31 victory against defending state champion Pickerington Central Saturday night at OSU and win the big-school state title for the second time in three years and seventh time in program  history – tying two other schools for the most state championships in girls’ basketball history.  Mt. Notre Dame finished the season with a 27-2 record.

Moeller, which competes in the all-boys’ GCL South, will be joined at state by Purcell Marian from the GCL Co-Ed Division.  The Cavaliers, making their first Final Four appearance since 2000 – advanced with a 67-56 win over Anna in a Division III regional final at Trent Arena in Kettering.  Purcell Marian (24-4) will oppose Canal Winchester Harvest Prep (26-2) at OSU at noon Thursday in the state semifinals.  Harvest Prep beat Wheelersburg, 52-38, yesterday at Ohio University to win the Athens regional.  The DIII title game is 10:45 a.m. Saturday.

Purcell Marian’s last trek to state was in 2000.  The Cavaliers won the Class AAA state crown in 1985, a season in which they were picked to finish last in the GCL (which had no divisions at the time) and wound up finishing 24-3, winning their final 14 games, under coach Jim Stoll.  The Cavaliers defeated Mansfield Senior, 66-57, in the state final behind 33 points from Dave Minor – who went on to play at Indiana University and was a member of the Hoosiers’ 1987 national championship team.

Against Centerville, Moeller held a 13-11 lead after one quarter.  The Crusaders then came alive to outscore the Elks, who were riding an 18-game winning streak entering the game, 14-8 and 13-7 in the second and third quarters, respectively, to build their advantage to 40-26 entering the final eight minutes.  Moeller, which has shot free throws well all season, was able to ice the game by connecting on 12-of-15 from the line.

Besides going a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, Williams also played solid defense on Centerville’s 6-foot-9 junior Mo Njie – who was coming off a triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in the Elks’ 67-63 victory against Springfield in Wednesday’s regional semifinals.  Njie had two points, four rebounds and five blocks against the tough Moeller defense, which held the Elks to 15-of-41 shooting from the field for 36.6 percent.  Centerville hurt itself by converting just 6-of-15 free throws for 40 percent.  Moeller also outrebounded the Elks, 31-20.

Land, who played outstanding defense against Lakota East standout Bash Wieland in the Crusaders’ 47-33 semifinal win Wednesday at XU, was 5-of-9 from the field to finish with 15 points, made all five free throws and grabbed six rebounds.  McBride, a West Virginia University signee, had his usual solid all-around game with 13 points (4-of-4 from the line), to go along with six assists and five rebounds with Mountaineers’ coach Bob Huggins among those on hand to watch Moeller defeat Centerville for the second time this season.  Moeller also won, 54-33, on January 5 at Moeller during the regular season.

Centerville (22-6) wraps up an outstanding season that included tying Springfield at 10-2 to share the Greater Western Ohio Conference Cardinal Division championship.  The Elks faced Moeller without starting guard Ryan Marchal, who was forced to sit out after receiving two technical fouls in the final few minutes of the Elks’ win against Springfield and was suspended.  Marchal is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 9.6 points, and leads the Elks with four assists per game.  Centerville’s only two losses in 2019 are to Moeller.

Posted on 3/16/2019 at 12:05 p.m.

Crusaders Look To Extend One Streak, End Another In Regional Final

Moeller is one win away from earning its third straight trip to the Division I Final Four of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament.  But, in order to do so, the Crusaders are going to have to extend a streak of their own while ending one for Centerville when the two teams meet in the regional final at 7 p.m. today at Xavier University’s Cintas Center – with a trip to Columbus on the line.

Defending state champion Moeller (26-0), which has not lost since late December 2017, looks to remain undefeated and extend its overall winning streak to 47 games, which includes a 13-game postseason winning streak and 19 victories in its last 20 state tournament games.  In the process, the Crusaders will attempt to end an 18-game winning streak for Centerville (22-5) – which last lost on January 5 at Moeller, 54-33.

The Cincinnati region champion will advance to the Final Four at the Jerome C. Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University in Columbus and face the Cleveland region winner at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 22.  Moeller has appeared in the last two state finals, winning against Solon, 83-65, last season while falling one win shy of a perfect season in 2016-17 with a setback to Massillon Jackson, 39-38, in the title game to end the season with a 28-1 record.  Jackson is the last Ohio team to beat the Crusaders, who are a combined 81-4 the last three seasons.

Moeller enters the regional final having posted 24 of its 26 victories by double digits; the Crusaders are winning by an average margin of 26.6 points.  In the first meeting, Moeller jumped out to a 12-4 lead after the first quarter and extended the advantage to 12 points at halftime, outscoring the Elks in each of the final two quarters as well.  Sophomore Alex Williams, who scored a team-high 13 points in Moeller’s defensive-led 47-33 win against Lakota East in the regional semifinals Wednesday at XU, came off the bench to score a team-high 15 that night versus Centerville.

Williams nailed 6-of-9 nine shots against Centerville; he was joined in double figures by senior Alec Pfriem, who added 12 as Moeller shot 54.8 percent from the field (23-of-42) and outrebounded the Elks, 29-16, led by  nine from senior Miles McBride – who also added four assists and four steals.  The Crusaders held Centerville to a total of 15 field goals, including just 2-of-10 from three-point range, forced 14 turnovers and let no Elk scoring in double figures to post its first victory of the new calendar year.

Centerville, which tied Springfield at 10-2 atop the Greater Western Ohio Conference Cardinal Division this season, rebounded from that setback to remain perfect the rest of January, all of February and the first half of March.  During its current streak, Centerville has been impressive against a solid schedule – including a 49-43 win against Mason in the district final and a 67-63 win against league rival Springfield in Wednesday’s semifinals, the Elks’ second victory in three games against the Wildcats this season.

Tickets for tonight’s regional final are $8 and available at the Cintas Center Box Office.

Posted on 3/15/2019 at 3:24 p.m.

La Salle’s Blessing Rolls 679 Series, Best Score Among Locals

Greater Catholic League South Division champion Elder, the first team in school history to win a district bowling championship, turned in another strong performance last weekend in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Bowling State Tournament – finishing fourth in the final team standings before a solid contingent of Elder fans who made the trek to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.  Vandalia Butler won its first state title, followed by Ashland, Mentor, Elder and Beavercreek rounding out the top five .

Elder was the lone team competing in the event from Cincinnati.

The Elder bowling program was making its second-ever appearance in the state tournament, and the Panthers entered the event with only three losses this season – all coming to GCL South rivals in La Salle twice and St. Xavier.  Elder’s season resume also included a title in the Springboro Invitational and runner-up finishes in the Centerville Elks Invitational and the Queen City Classic.

La Salle sophomore Nolan Blessing, who was named first team All-GCL South, had the best series among area bowlers at state – rolling a 679 to finish fifth.  Elder’s Ryan Kaffenberger, also named to the all-league team, came in seventh with a 666.  The other Elder bowlers, listed in their respective order of finish among the DI individual competitors and their series scores:   24. Jacob Hickey, 605; 81. Ethan Boyers, 415; 89. Cameron Brocker (one game),196; 92. Tyler Jansing (one game), 175; and 95. Jacob Holmes (one game), 159. 

Mostly comprised of juniors, Elder did get a solid performance from Hickey – a senior who was called up from the Panthers’ Varsity B team at midseason.  In just half a season, Hickey managed to bowl 26 games and average 206.5 without ever recording an appearance in a varsity match before this season.  He capped off his season by bowling all nine individual postseason games and shooting 600 in all three competitions (607, 631, 605).  The only other Elder bowler who rolled all nine individual postseason games was Junior Ryan Kaffenberger.

Kaffenberger was the 2017-18 GCL South Bowler of the Year by averaging 225.4 in his sophomore season.  Kaffenberger bowled in 45 of 48 possible games as a sophomore and followed it up by bowling in 46 of 48 games possible games this season and finished with a 212.9 average.  He was named first team All-GCL South for the second consecutive season.

The Panthers got off to a slow start at state, bowling their lowest game of the day (915) on their starting pair and sitting 12th in the team standings – knowing they would have to improve to make the eight-team cut.  Elder responded by rolling a 946 followed by a 949, enough to move them into eighth place, with only three Baker format games to be bowled.  The Panthers then shot games of 187, 224, and 173 (584) and had the third highest Baker round of the tournament, picking up a place going into the break.

During the break, All-Ohio individual bowlers were announced.  There are more than 1,500 varsity high school bowlers in the state, and only 15 were recognized at the state tournament, which is the top one percent.  Kaffenberger was seventh to make second team All-Ohio with a 666 (199-249-218).   Blessing, who helped lead La Salle to an 18-4 record overall, 14-4 in the GCL South and to finish one game behind Elder in the league standings, was fifth and, as a result, earned first team All-Ohio status with a 679 series (192-258-229).  No other Cincinnati bowlers placed, but Oak Hills’s Chase Francisco finished at No. 17 with a 632 and Hickey was No. 24 with a 605.

After qualifying seventh, Elder’s first opponent was Dayton rival, Beavercreek.  In the previous round, Beavercreek shot a team score of 3631 compared to Elder’s 3394.  However, after going up 2-1 and losing a very tough game four, 204-200, the Panthers captured the fifth and deciding game, game 5, 177-156, to advance to the Division I Final Four.  Ashland was Elder’s opponent in the semifinals and, after the Panthers claimed a 161-156 win in the first game, Ashland shot games of 226-246-226 to win, 3-1.  Butler then defeated Ashland, 3-1, in the finals.

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