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Moeller’s Postseason Streak Ends In Regional Final

Posted on 3/14/2021 at 7:51 p.m.

Centerville Earns First State Final Four Berth With Late Shot
 
It was a matchup between two of the Southwest Region’s top prep basketball teams, one that had dominated the state tournament for the past few years and another looking to make its first appearance in the Division I Final Four.  In the end, it was the team looking to take that next step that came up with the big play in the clutch.
 
Centerville junior Tom House nailed a lengthy three-point shot with seven seconds remaining to give his team a two-point lead, and the Elks were able to successfully defend Moeller on its final possession to secure a 40-38 victory Saturday night at Princeton High School and earn the Greater Dayton school its first trip to the state semifinals.  House’s game winner came while being guarded tightly by GCL South Defensive Player of the Year Evan Mahaffey.
 
The loss prevented Moeller from a fourth straight trip to the DI Final Four and snapped the Crusaders’ 26-game postseason winning streak that dated back to their 39-38 loss to Massillon Jackson in the 2017 state final.
 
Moeller, which won state titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19, was one step away from earning a trip to the semifinals last year before COVID-19 forced OHSAA officials to cancel the remainder of the tournament as the Crusaders awaited a meeting with Lakota East in the regional final.  Moeller has won four state titles in its storied basketball history.
 
Centerville (24-3), No. 4 in the final regular season Associated Press DI state poll, advances to meet top-ranked and undefeated Mentor (25-0) – which defeated Medina, 65-55, in its regional final – in one semifinal at 5 p.m. Saturday at the University of Dayton Arena.  Cleveland St. Ignatius faces Westerville Central in the other semifinal.  The state final is set 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
 
Junior forward Rich Rolf led Centerville with 14 points and eight rebounds, while House and sophomore guard Gabe Cupps – son of Elks’ coach Brook Cupps – each added 12 for the Elks, who lost to Moeller in the regional semifinals the last two years and were also beaten by the Crusaders, 71-58, on December 19 at Moeller.  Centerville lost to Wilmington and future University of Cincinnati standout Jarron Cumberland, 48-28, in the 2016 regional final.  That Wilmington team was coached by Mike Noszka, whose St. Xavier team lost to Moeller, 72-69, on Wednesday night.
 
But Moeller took a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, before Cupps was fouled attempting a three-pointer and sank all three free throws.  Minutes later, Rolf tied the game with a three-pointer with 4:41 remaining.  Moeller regained the lead before Cupps three-pointer gave Centerville a 37-36 lead with 1:15 left.  Moeller jumped back in front on its next possession, with senior Alex Williams giving the Crusaders a 38-37 advantage.  Centerville proceeded to take the clock down until House connected on the game-winning three from the left wing.
 
Williams, who is slated to play at Furman University next season, led the Crusaders with 16 points. Senior Logan Duncomb, an Indiana University signee, added 14 points and 13 rebounds.  This also was the final game at Moeller for seniors Aidan Noyes and Aidan Turner, who were instrumental in the Crusaders notching another season with 20 victories.
 
This will be remembered as one of the strongest seasons in the GCL South, with St. Xavier (2), Moeller (3) and Elder (5) finishing among the top five teams in the final AP poll after ending in a three-way tie for the league championship.  All three advanced to the regional semifinals, while La Salle’s season ended with a loss to Elder in the district final.  St. Xavier (20-3) and Elder (20-4) were a combined 32-6 against non-league competition, while Moeller’s only non-conference defeats were to Centerville and two out-of-state teams.  Overall, the four GCL South teams finished with a combined 70-25 record, including a 58-13 mark against non-league opponents.  

Moeller Gets By St. Xavier In OT Semifinal Thriller

Posted on 3/13/2021 at 6:09 p.m.

Elder’s Bid For All-GCL South Regional Final Falls Short In Semifinals
 
It seems only fitting that the third meeting this season between two of the top three ranked teams in Ohio would need a little additional time to decide which teams would be able to advance to the regional final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament.  And that is exactly what happened in the first of two Division I regional semifinals held Wednesday night at Princeton High School.
 
St. Xavier, ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season Associated Press DI state poll, and two-time defending champion and No. 3 Moeller, staged a memorable showdown between two rivals from the Greater Catholic League South Division – with St. Xavier rallying late in regulation to force overtime and then staging another comeback in the extra period before Moeller finally emerged with a 72-69 win to advance to the regional final.
 
Elder, the third member of the GCL South and No. 5 in Ohio, was vying to end Centerville’s lengthy winning streak and set up a third meeting against Moeller in the regional final.  But, after taking an eight-point lead into the locker room at halftime, the Panthers went cold in the second half and eventually fell to the Elks, 52-43, in the second semifinal at Princeton.
 
As a result, two teams with lengthy winning streak will attempt to win one more and earn a trip to the DI Final Four – which tips off next Friday at the University of Dayton Arena.  Centerville is riding a 13-game winning streak, including five straight in the postseason; Moeller, the two-time defending state champion with titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 that made it to the regional final last year before COVID-19 forced OHSAA officials to cancel the remaining of the state tournament – has won 26 consecutive postseason games.
 
Moeller beat Centerville, 71-58, on December 19 at Moeller.  In that game, Alex Williams (25) and Logan Dunccomb (24) combined to score 49 points and grab 15 rebounds 11 by Duncomb.  The Crusaders also defeated Centerville in last year’s state tournament, posting a 54-42 win in the regional semifinals behind 35 combined points from Williams (18) and Duncomb (17).
 
Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Princeton.
 
To get there, it was anything but easy for Moeller (20-4) – lost to St. Xavier, 61-56, in the regular-season finale at home, the first defeat in Kenwood for Moeller since ironically Centerville defeated the Crusaders, 42-41, back on February 14, 2015.  The Bombers entered the regional semifinal as the hottest team in the league, having won 10 games in a row behind the play of Southwest District Player of the Year Kobe Rodgers and Joe Kirby, a first-team All-GCL South selection.
 
Kirby and Rodgers both had solid nights for St. Xavier (20-3), which had a perfect 16-0 mark this season against non-league competition.  Kirby led the Bombers with 26 points that included a barrage of late three-point goals to send the game into OT.  Kirby finished with seven three-pointers, while Rodgers added 19 points and six rebounds, while junior Louie Semona chipped in 11 points.
 
Seniors Williams and Duncomb, and Indiana University recruit, scored 21 and 19 points, respectively, for Moeller.  To lead four double-figure scorers.  Williams knocked down 7-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, while also grabbing six rebounds.  Duncomb made 7-of-8 field goals and finished with another double-double, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. Senior Aidan Noyes added 13, while junior Evan Mahaffey scored 10 for the Crusaders.
 
It was quite a season for St. Xavier under second-year coach Mike Nozka – whose team got better all season.  Its win against Moeller in the regular-season finale was the Bombers’ first against the perennial state contenders since 2006.  St. Xavier also knocked off Huber Heights Wayne twice, one in the regular season and again in the district final, and also beat Northern Kentucky’s top-ranked team in Covington Catholic.  Not to mention earning a share of the league title with Elder and Moeller – its first since 2005.  The district crown was the first since 2010.
 
This also was a tremendous season for Elder (20-4), which appeared in great position to advance to the regional final after taking a 22-14 lead into halftime against Centerville.  But it truly was a tale of two halves, as the Elks outscored Elder, 38-21, in the final two quarters to keep its winning streak alive.  Elder had its five-game winning streak snapped and also suffered a defeat for just the second time in 15 games.
 
Senior David Larkins was the lone Panther in double figures, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds.  And, despite not scoring at the same pace as it did in the first half, Elder still held a two-point lead heading into the final quarter after Centerville closed the third quarter on an 8-0 run.  However, in the final eight minutes, Centerville outscored Elder, 20-9, and made the most of its trips to the free-throw line.  Sophomore Gabe Cupps led Centerville with 16 points.

GCL South Sends Three Teams To Regional Hoops

Posted on 3/7/2021 at 3:24 p.m.

Elder Beats La Salle For Third Time; Moeller, St. Xavier Advance
 
The Greater Catholic League South Division has arguably been the best basketball conference in Ohio this season, with three of its four members ranked in the top five of the final regular-season Associated Press Division I state poll.  And, the league has done nothing but strengthen its reputation during the postseason – with those same teams advancing to the regional after winning Southwest District championships in the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
 
Elder (No. 5 in the state poll), Moeller (No. 3) and St. Xavier (No. 2), which all tied atop the GCL South standings with identical 4-2 league records, each earned its way to the regional semifinals with a double-digit win against strong competition that included the fourth member of the GCL South in La Salle.  Elder, Moeller and St. Xavier will take a combined 58-9 record and 19-game winning streak into the regional semifinals this week.
 
There is the possibility of an all-GCL South regional final, too.  Moeller and St. Xavier, which split two meetings during the regular season, will meet for a third time in one semifinal – with tipoff set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Princeton High School, meaning the winner will advance to the regional final.  Elder opposes Centerville in the second semifinal that same night, at 8.  Centerville(23-3) defeated Mason, 61-42, in the other district final Saturday at Lakota West.
 
Elder (20-3) got the day started by recording its third victory – and the first without needing overtime – over GCL South rival La Salle, 59-46, in the first of two district finals played at Lakota West High School.  Elder won the first two meetings during the regular season by a combined seven points, including a 58-56 triumph on the final night of the regular season to earn the Panthers a share of the league championship.
 
La Salle (11-13), coming off a solid win against Lakota East in the district semifinals, held a 9-8 advantage after a quarter.  But the Panthers came alive to outscore La Salle, 18-10, in the next eight minutes to take a seven-point halftime lead.  Elder, which has now won five games in a row and 13 of 15, put the game away in the final quarter by scoring 24 points.  Junior guard Sean Keller scored 17 points to lead Elder to its first district title since 2007.
 
The big second quarter for Elder was buoyed by a 12-0 run that included the Panthers making 10-of-11 free throws in the second quarter to go up 23-13.  Elder finished with a 29-14 rebounding advantage to record their fourth straight double-digit win in the tournament.  Andrew Harp added nine points, while David Larkins chipped in eight for the Panthers.  Senior Justin Lovette closed an outstanding career with La Salle, scoring a game-high 25 points.  Junior guard Roman Street came off the bench to add nine for the Lancers.
 
Moeller (19-4) then followed by winning a district title for the eighth straight year, defeating Miamisburg, 75-54, at Centerville High School to extend its postseason winning streak to 25 games.  Senior point guard Aidan Noyes scored a game-high 23 points, and senior Logan Duncomb – an Indiana University recruit – added 19 points and nine rebounds to pace the Crusaders.
 
It was a 10-point game at halftime, with Moeller holding a 37-27 edge, but the Crusaders erupted to score 30 points in the third quarter to build an insurmountable lead.  Seniors Alex Williams and Aidan Turner each chipped in 10 apiece for Moeller, which made 32-of-48 field goals and sank 9-of-13 free throws.  The Crusaders had a 32-11 edge in rebounding against Miamisburg (17-8).
 
St. Xavier (19-2) was the last league team to take the court last night, and the Bombers showed again why they have been the league’s hottest team the last month-plus.  Facing a talented Wayne for the second time, having earned a  62-59 win on January 30 at St. Xavier, the Bombers used a 28-point second quarter to hold a 49-35 lead at halftime.  Wayne battled back to cut the deficit to 61-55 after three quarters, but St. Xavier was up to the challenge and converted 16-of-20 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
 
St. Xavier shot well from everywhere, making 27-of-42 field goals including 11-of-19 (58 percent) from three point-range against Wayne (17-5).  Senior guard Joe Kirby had a season-high 29 points on a near-perfect night, knocking down 7-of-9 field goals, including 7-of-8 three-pointers, and all eight free throws to go along with five rebounds.  Junior Louie Semona added 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, making 3-of-5 three-points, and seven rebounds, while senior Kobe Rodgers added 17 points and seven rebounds.
 
The district title is the first at St. Xavier for second-year coach Mike Noszka, who also won a district title while previously coaching at Wilmington.  It is the Bombers’ first district crown since 2010 and, if St. Xavier is to advance to the regional final, it will have to defeat its longtime league nemesis in Moeller.  The Bombers posted their first win against Moeller in 31 games in the final regular-season game, winning 61-56 on the road to earn a share of the GCL South championship.

Busy Tourney Saturday Ahead For GCL South Teams

Posted on 3/5/2021 at 7:53 a.m.

League Members Comprise Half of Southwest District Final Field
 
Greater Catholic League South Division basketball will be on full display Saturday, when all four league members take the court to compete in three of the four Southwest District finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament.
 
The GCL South, which ended the regular season with three of its teams – St. Xavier (2), Moeller (3) and Elder (5) ranked in the final Associated Press Division I state rankings – have certainly backed its reputation up in the postseason.  The league teams are a perfect 11-0 to date in the tournament, and the GCL South is guaranteed at least one entry in the regional and could have as many as three of its members in the four-team regional field.
 
Elder (19-3), which has won four straight and 12 of 14, faces rival La Salle (11-12), which defeated Lakota East in the semifinals, 58-44, for the third time this season at 2 p.m. at Lakota West High School.  The previous two meetings both went to Elder, by a combined seven points with both games going into overtime.  The latest meeting was a 58-56 win by Elder at The Pit in Price Hill on the final night of the regular season, earning the Panthers a share of the GCL South title with Moeller and St. Xavier.
 
Moeller (18-4), the two-time defending state champion, puts its 24-game postseason winning streak on the line when it faces Miamisburg (17-7) in its district final at 5 p.m. at Centerville High School.  The Crusaders were just two wins away from a three-peat last March when COVID-19 forced OHSAA officials to cancel the remainder of the state tournament.
 
After having its first two scheduled games  declared a no contest according to the official tournament brackets on the OHSAA website, Moeller opened postseason play with a 51-22 win against Middletown last Saturday in the semifinals.  Moeller is also unbeaten in the district since 2013.  The Crusaders are vying for their eighth straight district championship.
 
St. Xavier (18-2), arguably the hottest team in the GCL South entering the postseason, has been just as impressive in the tournament as the regular season.  The Bombers – who have won nine games in a row – are a perfect 14-0 against non-league competition, with one of those wins a 62-59 triumph against its district final Huber Heights Wayne (17-4) on January 31 at St. Xavier.  The rematch is set for 7:30 at Centerville, with the regional semifinal berth on the line.
 
The fourth district final, and the only one not involving a GCL South team, should be a good one as well.  Centerville (21-3), which won a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference championship and is on an 11-game winning streak, meets perennial Greater Miami Conference contender Mason (18-5), winner of six consecutive games, in the second final at Lakota West. Tipoff is 4:30 p.m. at Lakota West.

Moeller Completes GCL South Sweep In District Semis

Posted on 2/28/2021 at 2:13 p.m.

Stingy Crusaders Extend Postseason Winning Streak To 24 Games

One day after Elder, La Salle and St. Xavier posted double-digit victories in their respective district semifinal games in the Ohio  High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament, two-time defending state champion Moeller completed the Greater Catholic League South Division sweep with a 51-22 victory against Middletown on Saturday night at Lakota West High School.

Moeller (18-4), playing its first game in 15 days and making its postseason debut on the court after advancing to the district semifinals with two wins listed as “no contests” on the official tournament brackets posted on the OHSAA website, advanced by shooting 55 percent from the field and holding the opposition to single digits in each quarter.

As a result, the Crusaders will meet Miamisburg (17-7) in a district final Saturday at a site and time to be determined by the OHSAA.  Miamisburg advanced with an 83-49 win against Springfield in its district semifinal Friday at Centerville.  Elder, La Salle and St. Xavier also will play in the district finals that same day, with the league posting a combined 11-0 record in the tournament to date. The four GCL South teams are now 54-9 against non-league competition this season.

Despite the lengthy layoff, Moeller wasted little time against Middletown (9-13) – jumping out to a 13-4 lead after one quarter and then outscoring the Middies, 20-5, in the second eight minutes to take a 33-9 halftime advantage.  Senior Aiden Noyes led the Crusaders with 17 points, hitting 7-of-9 shots and 2-of-3 from three-point range .  Senior Alex Williams added 14 points to go along with six rebounds, four steals and three assists.  Senior Aidan Turner chipped in 11 points as Moeller knocked down 18-of-33 shots.

All four GCL South teams will be in action Saturday, with Elder and La Salle meeting for a third time in one district final.  Elder won both regular-season meetings by a combined total of seven points, with both games going to overtime.  St. Xavier gets a rematch with Huber Heights Wayne, which the Bombers defeated,  62-59, in late January at St. Xavier.