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Moeller Falls To Fairfield In District Semifinals

Posted on 3/7/2022 at 12:14 p.m.

Crusaders Suffer Just Second Postseason Loss In Four Years

It has been a rare occurrence for Moeller to lose in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament the last four years, so it is even more of a rarity when the Crusaders don’t advance to the regional tournament.  That is what happened this spring, as Moeller was held to single digits in two quarters and failed to score more than 13 points in any period in a 43-33 loss to Fairfield in the district semifinals February 26 at Lakota West High School.

The loss was only the second in the postseason for Moeller (18-6) in the last four years, in which the Crusaders have amassed a 21-2 record.  Moeller’s state tournament success began with an 8-0 mark on its way to the 2018-19 Division I state title, was followed with a 6-0 record the following season before the OHSSAA canceled the end of the tournament because of COVID-19.  And Moeller made it to the regional by winning five straight games last year before falling to eventual state champion Centerville, 40-38.

Moeller’s elimination came less than 24 hours after Greater Catholic League South Division champion and No. 1 seed Elder was also knocked out in the district semis.  The Panthers fell to Turpin, 52-49, in overtime on a last-second, game-winning, three-point shot by senior Brady Hardwig – sending Turpin to its fifth consecutive victory against Elder and second this season. The Spartans defeated Elder, 4o9-41, in December during the regular season.

That said, it was an outstanding season for both Elder and Moeller – which combined for a 38-10 overall record against difficult schedules.  Two of Moeller’s losses were to Elder, which captured the league title outright for only the second time in its storied basketball history.

Against Fairfield, Moeller simply could not get untracked offensively - finishing 13-of-36 from the field (36.1 percent), including 2-of-11 from three-point range, and making just 5-of-13 free throws to finish with the second-lowest point total this season.  Moeller’s season low came in a 49-26 loss at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on December 11.

Senior Evan Mahaffey, the GCL South Player of the Year and Penn State University commit, was the lone Crusaders in double figures with 12 points.  No other Moeller player scored more than seven points against a Fairfield team that won its seventh straight game.  The Indians were the regular-season champion of the Greater Miami Conference.

Fairfield (22-4) defeated Walnut Hills, 55-52, at the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena Sunday to win the district championship and advance to the regional semifinals.  The Indians are scheduled to face Huber Heights Wayne in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, followed by defending state champion and unbeaten Centerville taking on Kettering Fairmont in the second semifinal, at 8:30.

Hardewig’s Buzzer-Beater In OT Leads Turpin Past Elder

Posted on 2/26/2022 at 11:41 a.m.

Spartans Defeat No. 1 Seed Panthers Again, This Time In Sectional Final

Junior guard Brady Hardewig took the inbounds pass, dribbled to the right side of the three-point line a few feet from the top of the key, and knocked down the game-winning shot as time expired in overtime to lift Turpin to a 52-49 victory in overtime in the district semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament early Friday evening at West Clermont High School.

The win was the second this season over the No. 1 seed and Greater Catholic League South Division champion Elder (20-4), which had its nine-game winning streak snapped in the process. Turpin (20-4), which defeated Elder, 49-41, during the regular season on its home court, advances to face Huber Heights Wayne in the district final on Sunday, March 6 at the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena.  Wayne beat Franklin, 70-49, in its sectional final.

Turpin has now beaten Elder five straight times.

Moeller (18-5), which won five consecutive games, meets Greater Miami Conference champion Fairfield (20-4) in the sectional final (district semifinal) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lakota West. The game was originally scheduled for 7 that same day.  Fairfield advanced with a 73-34 victory against Withrow in the other game at West last night.

The Crusaders, who finished behind Elder in the GCL South standings, are 21-1 the past three-plus seasons in the postseason.  Moeller began its state tournament success by winning the 2018-19 Division I state title, advanced to the regional final the following season before COVID-19 forced the OHSAA to cancel the remainder of the tournament, and then advanced to the regional final last season before falling to eventual state champion Centerville, 40-38.

The Elder-Turpin matchup was an anticipated rematch after the Spartans won the previous meeting on January 11 – handing Elder its first loss of the season and becoming the only Cincinnati area team to be the Panthers during the regular season.  This tine, with leading scorer Sean Keller in the lineup after missing the first game with an ankle injury, Elder went to halftime with a 28-19 after junior Sam Whitmer connected on a field goal before the buzzer sent both teams to the locker room.

Turpin, though, rallied behind Colin McHale and Hardewig in the third quarter.  But Elder held a game-high lead of 12 points and still led by eight early in the final quarter.  Hardewig, who missed just one shot in the second half led Turpin back and gave the Spartans a 49-47 lead before Keller tied the game and forced OT with a shot with four seconds remaining in regulation.

There were no points scored in the extra period until time expired as Hardewig sank a 25-foooter to send Turpin to its first DI sectional championship after earning its previous title at the DII level. Hardewig, who connected on 6-of-11 three-pointers, led all scorers with 22 points, while McHale added 13.  Hardewig had 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the first meeting.

Elder got a team-high 17 points from junior Carson Browne, while Whitmer added 14 in the Panthers’ final game this season – a season that included an outright GCL South championship with a perfect 6-0 record, a No. 1 ranking in Cincinnati and a No. 6 spot in the final Associated Press DI state poll.  Those numbers heled Elder earn the sectional’s No. 1 seed.

“I told them we didn’t lose the game, Turpin won the game,” Elder coach Joe Schoenfeld told The Enquirer afterward.  “I’m proud of their effort.  All of those guys can look in the mirror tomorrow, a week from now, five years from now, they did everything they could do to prepare as well as they possibly could.  Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other team.”

 

Second-Half Rally Leads Moeller Past Hamilton

Posted on 2/24/2022 at 11:37 a.m.

Crusaders Join Elder In Sectional Finals To Be Played This Week

Senior Evan Mahaffey and sophomore AJ McBride each scored 13 points to help Moeller come back from a six-point halftime deficit to outscore Hamilton, 13-5, in the third quarter on its way to a 45-40 victory over the Big Blue in an Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament game Wednesday night at Lakota West High School in West Chester.

Moeller (18-5), which won its fifth straight game, advances to meet Greater Miami Conference champion Fairfield (20-4) in the sectional final (district semifinal) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lakota West. The game was originally scheduled for 7 that same day.  Fairfield advanced with a 73-34 victory against Withrow in the other game at West last night.

The Crusaders, who are 21-1 in the postseason since the 2018-19 season, join Greater Catholic League South Division champion Elder in the next round.  The Panthers (20-3), who have won nine games in a row, advance to meet Turpin (19-4) at 5:30 Friday night at West Clermont High School.

Elder’s sectional final was moved up 30 minutes from its originally scheduled time of 6 p.m.  The Panthers, who entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed, will attempt to avenge a 49-41 loss to Turpin suffered during the regular season.

Against Hamilton, Moeller trailed 10-6 after one quarter and 23-17 at halftime after shooting just 37 percent and making just 1-of-7 three-point attempts.  But Moeller came alive in the second half and held a two-point lead after three quarters, extending it to 39-30 in the fourth quarter.  

Moeller converted 10 free throws in the second half to hold off the Big Blue.  McBride nailed 3-of-4 three-pointers and grabbed four rebounds, while Mahaffey added five rebounds.  Senior Yoro Diallo also was in double figures, with 10.  Elijah Givens led Hamilton (7-13) with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Cooper Matthews chipped in 10 points.

Elder Defeats Oak Hills, Earns Rematch With Turpin

Posted on 2/22/2022 at 6:26 p.m.

Balanced Scoring Paces Panthers To Ninth In Row, Victory No. 20

Balanced scoring has been a staple of Elder all season, and Monday night was no exception as four players scored eight or more points to lead the Panthers to their ninth consecutive victory and second in just over a month over neighborhood rival Oak Hills – this time getting past the Highlanders, 53-34, in the second round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament at West Clermont High School.

As a result, No. 1 seed Elder (20-3) earns a rematch with Turpin (19-4) at 6 p.m. Friday at West Clermont.  Turpin, which knocked off Mason, 51-49, for its fifth win in a row in the second game last night, is the only team from Ohio to beat Elder this season, posting a 49-41 win at Turpin on January 11 in what was the Panthers’ last loss.   Elder, which played that game without leading scorer Sean Keller who was sidelined with an injury, also lost to Carmel, Ind. and Ashland, Ky. Paul Blazer during the regular season.

Against Oak Hills (7-15), which Elder defeated 58-41 on the road during the regular season, Keller along with senior Matthew Menninger and junior Carson Browne each scored nine points, while senior Andre Harp added eight for the Panthers – who broke open an 11-11 tie after one quarter by outscoring the Highlanders, 18-6, in the second quarter to build a double-digit halftime advantage.

Moeller (17-5), which finished second behind Elder in the Greater Catholic League South Division standings, faces Hamilton (7-12) in the second round of its sectional bracket at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Lakota West High School.  The Crusaders, who won the 2018-19 Division I state championship, have won four straight and are 20-1 in the state playoff the last three-plus seasons.

Moeller Cruises To Opening Tourney Victory

Posted on 2/20/2022 at 11:04 a.m.

Crusaders Improve Postseason Record To 20-1 In Last Three-Plus Years

Senior Evan Mahaffey, named the Greater Catholic League South Division Player of the Year earlier in the week, led a balanced Moeller offense with a near-perfect shooting game to help lead the Crusaders to a 69-32 victory against Colerain in an Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball State Tournament game on Saturday afternoon at Lakota West High School in West Chester.

Mahaffey, a Penn State University recruit, finished with a game-high 15 points by sinking 5-of-6 field goals, all five of his free-throw attempts, to go along with six assists and four steals.  He was joined in double figures by sophomore AJ McBride, who added 13 and junior Grant Smethwick, who came off the Moeller bench to score a career-high 11.  Smethwick was one of 11 players to score for Moeller – which outscored Colerain (2-21), 45-15, in the second half.

Moeller (17-5) advances to face Hamilton in the second round at 7:15 p.m. next Wednesday at Lakota West.  Hamilton (7-12) advanced with a 58-38 win over Goshen in its first-round game Saturday, snapping a four-game losing streak.  Hamilton played one GCL South opponent this season, falling at St. Xavier, 62-60, back on December 11.

The Crusaders increased their postseason record to 20-1 the last three-plus seasons – going 8-0 in 2018-19 to capture the Division I state championship, rolling up a 6-0 mark the following season to make the regional final before the tournament was canceled because of COVID-19, and then posting five consecutive wins last season before falling to eventual state champ Centerville, 40-38, in the regional final.

Elder (19-3), the outright regular-season GCL South champion, also moved to the second round by winning its eighth straight game Friday with a 70-52 win against Milford at West Clermont High School.  The Panthers advance to meet neighborhood rival Oak Hills (7-14) at 6 p.m. Tuesday night at West Clermont.  Elder was ranked No. 6 in the final Associated Press D I state poll released last week.