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Posted on 2/11/2019 at 9:43 a.m.

St. Xavier Hits 13 Three-Pointers In Win; La Salle Hurt By Slow Start

Seniors Alex Pfriem and Miles McBride, who have consistently turned in solid performances all season long for the Moeller basketball team, did so again on Saturday – combining to score 30 points, grab 14 rebounds and dish out 10 assists to lead the Crusaders to a 54-36 victory against Purcell Marian at the Brisben Family Education Center on the school’s Kenwood campus.  The victory extended Moeller’s overall winning streaks to 40 games overall and 34 straight at home, while also moving the Crusaders to within one win of earning their second unbeaten regular season in the last three seasons.

Greater Catholic League members St. Xavier and La Salle also played non-conference games last night, with the Bombers connecting on 14-of-31 three-point goals and scoring 24 or more points in each of the last three quarters to post a 92-66 win against Ponitz Career Technology Center from Dayton at the school’s Dick Berning Gymnasium.  Meanwhile, La Salle managed to score just one point in the first quarter and 11 by halftime to face an early deficit it could not overcome in an eventual 54-30 loss at Walnut Hills, a member of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.

Moeller (20-0), the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press Division I state poll all season, outscored Purcell Marian, 21-9, in the second quarter to take an insurmountable 35-17 lead at halftime.  The Crusaders, who have won all but two games this season by double figures, were led by 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists from McBride, and 15 points, five rebounds and four assists from Pfriem.  The Crusaders, who hit 24-of-44 field goals for 54.5 percent, also got eight points and seven rebounds from junior Max Land and eight points from sophomore Alex Williams off the bench.

Alex Dotson of Purcell Marian (16-4) led all scorers with 20.

St. Xavier was tied with Ponitz, 13-13, after one quarter before exploding for 28 points in the second eight minutes to take an 18-point halftime lead.  The Bombers then scored 24 and 27 points, respectively, in the final two quarters, with five players scoring in double figures.  Junior Hank Thomas led the way with his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.  Junior Luke Pellot scored 16 points, nailing three three-pointers, while junior Eli Majick added 12, including three three’s, and Nathan Stockman and Nick Frank each added 10 for St. Xavier (10-11).

It was anything but a fun night offensively for La Salle (12-8), which had its modest two-game winning streak snapped because of trouble shooting in every area.  The Lancers were just 9-of-43 from the field, which is 20.9 percent, and made only 1-of-15 from three-point range.  It was even tough at the free-throw line, where La Salle was good on just 11-of-21 attempts for 52.4 percent.  Senior Nathan Vogelpohl and junior Jeff Queen led the Lancers with six points apiece.  Junior forward Michael Grant led Walnut Hills with a game-high 20 points.

This is the final week of the regular season in Ohio, with only La Salle in action Tuesday when it travels to McNicholas – a member of the GCL Co-Ed Division – for a 7:30 p.m. start.  The Lancers then wrap up the regular season on Friday, traveling to Elder in a game that will decide sole possession of second place in the GCL South as both teams enter with identical 2-3 records.  Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at The Pit in Price Hill.  Moeller, which wrapped up its third straight outright league title with a win against Elder Friday night, will attempt to wrap up its third straight perfect league season when it hosts St. Xavier at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

If victorious, the Crusaders will lock up a second perfect regular season in the last three – finishing 22-0 and actually extending it to 28-0 in the 2016-17 season, the lone loss that year coming in the DI state final to Massillon Jackson, 39-38.  Moeller had another non-conference game scheduled this season, which would have been game No. 22, but inclement weather forced the game at Massillon Washington on Saturday, January 20 to be canceled and the two schools have not been able to find a make-up date for rescheduling purposes.

Posted on 2/9/2019 at 11:14 a.m.

Vogelpohl Leads Way On Senior Night In La Salle Win Over St. X

Sophomore Logan Duncomb and senior Alex Pfriem scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, and Moeller overcame a slow start with a big second quarter on its way to a 59-32 win against Elder on Friday night at the Brisben Family Education Center in Kenwood.  The victory earned Moeller its third consecutive Greater Catholic League South Division championship outright,, and the Crusaders have won outright or shared the last seven league titles.  The win also extended Moeller’s overall winning streak to 39 games and was the Crusaders’ 33rd win in a row at home.                                                                                                              
Moeller has now won 18 straight GCL South games.

In Friday’s other GCL South game, a big second half helped La Salle erase a three-point halftime deficit and sweep the season series against St. Xavier with a 51-41 victory on Senior Night at La Salle’s Bill Cady Court.  Senior Nathan Vogelpohl led the Lancers with 15 points, while a pair of juniors in Derek Eddings and Jaylen Lemons each added 10 for La Salle (12-7, 2-3 GCL South).  La Salle won at St. Xavier, 39-37, last month on a last-second three-pointer by Eddings.

The win moves the Lancers into a tie for second place in the GCL South with Elder heading into the final Friday of GCL South games in six days.  La Salle, which travels to Elder next Friday for a game that will determine second place in the league, has won two straight and five of the last seven.  Elder also has been hot, winning four of its last five.

Moeller (19-0, 5-0), ranked No. 1 all season in the Associated Press Division I state poll, held a 14-11 lead after one quarter against an Elder team playing its best basketball of the season, riding a four-game winning streak that included three consecutive road wins.  But the Crusaders outscored Elder, 19-6, in the second quarter (buoyed by a 15-0 run in the final 4:03) to extend the margin to 33-17 at halftime, more than enough  for coach Carl Kremer’s team  to remain unbeaten.  Elder led Moeller, 34-33, after three quarters in the first meeting last month, only to see Moeller outscore the Panthers, 17-5, in the final eight minutes for a 50-39 win at The Pit.

Duncomb was 7-of-8 from the field and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to pace Moeller, which connected on 23-of-42 shots for 54.8 percent.  Pfriem added six rebounds to his point total, and senior guard Miles McBride had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.  The trio was a combined 16-of-26 from the field, with McBride scoring 10 points and recording all of his assists in the first half.  Moeller is ranked No. 22 nationally in the MaxPreps computer rankings.

Senior Michael Bittner led Elder (10-10, 2-3) with 11 points.

La Salle and St. Xavier combined to knock down 12 three-pointers in their game.  La Salle got three from Lemons and two from junior Jeff Queen, who was coming off a 15-point effort in the Lancers’ home win against Dayton Chaminade-Julienne on Tuesday night.  St. Xavier (9-11, 1-4) nailed seven from long range, including three each from Nathan Stockman and Danny Greive.  Stockman led the Bombers with a game-high 20 points, while Greive added 14. Hank Thomas added seven points and the team’s final three.

Three of the four GCL South schools are in action tonight, with Moeller and La Salle playing rescheduled games that were originally postponed because of inclement weather.  Moeller will get a strong challenge from a talented Purcell Marian (16-3), which leads the GCL Co-Ed Central Division with an 8-1 record.  Purcell Marian posted its third straight win Friday, defeating Roger Bacon, 69-56.  Tipoff is 7:30 at Moeller.

La Salle travels to face Walnut Hills at 7:30 tonight.  Walnut Hills, a member of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, is 12-7 after a 60-43 loss last night to Turpin, which is second in the ECC one game behind West Clermont.   St. Xavier steps out of conference to host Ponitz Career Technology Center from Dayton at 7:30 at Dick Berning Gymnasium, while Elder is off until hosting La Salle next Friday.

Posted on 2/8/2019 at 11:29 a.m.

La Salle Notches Impressive Win Against Talented Chaminade-Julienne

It was a good Tuesday night on the basketball court for the two Greater Catholic League South Division schools in action.  Elder used a big fourth quarter, scoring 26 points in the final eight minutes, to break a tie and post a 61-52 victory at Springboro to extend the Panthers’ winning streak to four games and move Elder one game above .500 this season.  Meanwhile, La Salle got a team-high 15 points, including four three-point goals, from junior Jeff Queen to post a 57-50 win on Bill Cady Court against Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, which was the top-ranked Division II team a week ago in Ohio before losing to Moeller on Saturday night.

Elder (10-9) continues to play its best basketball as the regular season draws to a close, as the Panthers are starting to get healthy and getting consistent contributions from key players.  Against Springboro, guards Willard Cluxton and Aiden Byrne combined to score 38 of the team’s points.  Cluxton, a junior, led the Panthers with a game-high 23 points and five three-point goals.  Byrne, a senior, added 15 points for an Elder team has now won three straight on the road.  Junior guard Matthew Luebbe, which will attempt to stop Moeller’s 38-game winning streak and prevent the Crusaders from winning their third straight outright GCL South title tonight.

La Salle (11-7), which trailed, 24-22, at halftime, also got a nice game from junior guard Jaylen Lemons – who added 13 points and two of the Lancers’ seven three-pointers.  Senior Nathan Vogelpohl added seven points and the final three-pointer for La Salle. – which will look for the season sweep against St. Xavier in its next game.  The Lancers, who are 1-3 in the GCL South, host St. Xavier (9-10, 1-3) at 7:30 tonight.  La Salle won the first meeting, 39-37, on the road in early January when junior Derek Eddings nailed a three-pointer in the final seconds.

Moeller (18-0, 4-0), No. 1 in the Associated Press Division I state rankings all season, will attempt to extend its winning streak against league competition to 18 games when it hosts Elder at 7:30 tonight at the Brisben Family Education Center on its Kenwood campus.  The Panthers gave Moeller a solid challenge in the first meeting at The Pit, holding a 34-33 lead after three quarters only to be outscored, 17-5, in the final eight minutes.  Elder is the last league team to defeat Moeller, too, wining 48-43 at home on February 5, 2016.

Posted at 2/6/2019 at 6:38 p.m.             

Lancers Enter As Tourney’s No. 1 Seed Off Regional Championship

Led by a trio of senior wrestlers who each have won more than 100 matches in their careers, and a deep, talent-laden team coming off an impressive victory in the regional last weekend that has earned La Salle the No. 1 seed in the state tournament, the Lancers are hoping to become the first school from Southwest Ohio to bring home a state title Sunday when they represent the Greater Catholic League South Division and SW Ohio (along with Mason) in the eight-team Ohio High School Athletic Association Team Wrestling State Tournament at St. John Arena on The Ohio State University in Columbus.

La Salle will oppose Lancaster, the No. 8 seed, in a first-round match in the upper bracket at 11 a.m.  If victorious, the Lancers will advance to meet the winner of  No. 4 Elyria and No. 5 Wadsworth, which also wrestle in the first round at 11, in the state semifinals at 3:30 p.m.  Other first-round competition in the lower bracket includes No. 2 seed and perennial state power Lakewood ST. Edward against No. 7 Dublin Coffman at 1:15 p.m. and No. 3 Brecksville-Broadview Heights versus No. 6 Mason, also at 1:15.  Those winners advance to the lower bracket semis at 3:30.

The championship match is set for 7:30 p.m.

La Salle is coming off an impressive performance in the OHSAA DI Region 8 Tournament last Saturday at Lakota East high School in Liberty Township.  Competing against the other three GCL South schools, the Lancers defeated Middletown, 63-18, in the first round, then bested GCL South member St. Xavier, 76-10, in the quarterfinals before getting past Sycamore, 68-9, in the semifinals, before ultimately knocking off league rival Elder, 54-15, in the title match.  Elder made it to the finals with victories against Hamilton, 76-3, Lakota East, 57-20, and Fairfield, 40-27, in the semifinals.  St. Xavier opened the tourney with a 42-34 win against Colerain before running into La Salle.

Moeller also competed in the regional.  The Crusaders got past Anderson, 53-30, in the first round before facing Sycamore in the quarterfinals.  The Aviators won that match, 46-27.  Mason also advanced to the OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament by winning the Region 7 crown held last Saturday at Beavercreek High School near Dayton.

La Salle, which has been nationally ranked all season long, is led by a talented trio of seniors – Lucas Byrd, Michael Baker and Trey Sizemore.  Byrd, who is 29-1 this season and has 155 victories in his high school career, is a three-time state placer and an individual state champion last year at 113 pounds.  Byrd is currently ranked No. 1 at 120 pounds nationally by Flowrestling.com.  He is committed to attend and wrestle at the University of Maryland, studying criminal justice, upon graduation.

Baker, who is 22-4 and has 145 wins in his career, is a three-time state qualifier and was a state placer last year (sixth at 195).  He plans to attend and wrestle at Columbia University, where he intends to study pre-med.  Sizemore, like Baker, intends to attend and wrestle at an Ivy League School.  Sizemore, 29-4 with 117 wins in his prep career, will go to Brown University and plans on studying engineering.  He placed sixth at 160 last year.

Quite an impressive trio, but the Lancers and coach Ryan Root have other talented grapplers as well.   Other key wrestlers include senior Robert Brown, who is currently ranked as the No. 4 DI heavyweight in Ohio by Borofanohio.net; sophomore Cole Skinner currently ranked No. 20 nationally at 106 pounds by Flowrestling; sophomore Dustin Norris, a returning state finalist (106 last year) who is ranked No. 11 in the nation at 113 by Flowrestling.com; junior Antione Allen, a returning state placer (fifth at 120); and junior Casey Wiles, who also placed at the state meet (third at 126)last year.

Should the seeds hold up Sunday, La Salle would meet St. Edward for the second time this season in a dual match.  The Lancers beat St. Edward, 35-27, at La Salle on December 15 in a match that saw La Salle post wins in the final three weight classes; Baker (195), Garrett Bledsoe (220) and Brown (285) to seal the victory.  St. Edward has won more OHSAA State Individual Wrestling Tournaments, 32, than any other DI program in Ohio history.  The Eagles also have won the state duals in 2013 and back-to-back in 2016 and 2017.

La Salle should be plenty prepared for the state duals, having faced off against an arduous schedule designed to prepare the Lancers for meets like this Sunday.  Root took his team to the Walsh Jesuit Iron Man, where La Salle finished third as a team December 7-8 in Northeast Ohio.  They also competed in the Al Dvorak Memorial Invitational December 22-23 at Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Ill., finishing second after having 10 wrestlers place in the event; and also participated in the 2019 Escape the Rock from January 19-20 at Council Rock High School in Southampton, Pa., where the Lancers were second with eight placers.

After the state duals, the GCL South teams will then target the OHSAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament that is scheduled for March 7-9 at the Jerome C. Schottenstein Center at OSU.  The GCL South was well represented there this past March, with La Salle finishing in fourth place, Elder coming in sixth and Moeller ending at No. 12.  Lakewood St. Edward has dominated this tournament over the years, capturing all but eight state crowns since 1978 and winning all but one DI championship this century, that being 2014.

Posted on 2/5/2019 at 7:39 p.m.

Panthers Finish First In Last Quad To Edge La Salle In Standings

After starting the league season 4-3, Elder went on an 11-0 run to successfully defend its Greater Catholic League South Division championship.  It wasn’t until the final quad match of the season, held last Friday at Western Bowl, that the Panthers were able to edge out La Salle and win its second straight league title.  Elder and La Salle entered the match, held at the home lanes of the defending champion by virtue of a new league rule, with identical 12-3 records, the four league bowling teams met before a large crowd at the historic bowling lanes.

Elder, led by a 460 series from Jacob Holmes, finished ahead of the competition with a team score of 2940 to finish with a 15-3 league record and is 16-3 overall.  La Salle – which wound up at 14-4 against GCL South competition and is 17-4 overall  – followed with a 2760, with St. Xavier coming in third at 2720, and Moeller rolling a 2532.  Other Elder high scores were Cameron Brocker (427), Ryan Kaffenberger (424) and Tyler Jansing (409).  La Salle’s top bowlers were Jacob Toelke (472), who rolled the best series in the quad, Nolan Blessing (423) and Tyler Williams (401).  Zach Saube led St. Xavier with a 416 series, followed by Carson Kiley's 408.  Nolan Braun’s 381 was tops for Moeller.

The GCL South teams will now prepare for the Ohio High School Athletic Association Sectional Tournaments.  Elder and La Salle will complete at Colerain Bowl beginning Thursday, February 21, while Moeller and St. Xavier will head to Crossgate Lanes for their sectional competition.

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