Fleming, Larkin Propel La Salle To District Hoops

02/28/2016

Posted on 2/28/2016 at 9:38 a.m.

Big Third Quarter Helps Lancers Past Elder In GCL South Sectional Final

Junior guard C.J. Fleming scored a game-high 21 points, and senior guard Jeremy Larkin drove to the basket and converted a key shot in the lane in the final minute to help La Salle defeat Elder, 49-44, in a matchup of Greater Catholic League South Division rivals in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Cincinnati 2 Sectional final Saturday night before a frenzied sellout crowd ore more than 2,000 at Lakota West High School.

The victory earns La Salle (22-3) a berth in the Southwest District final for the eighth time in the last nine years, as the Lancers advance to meet Centerville (16-10), which beat Sidney, 67-47, in the Dayton 1 Sectional final Friday night at Vandalia Butler High School.  The teams will meet in the district tournament at a time to be determined Saturday at Wright State University’s Nutter Center.

La Salle joins GCL South member Moeller (22-3) in the district final.  The Crusaders will play Springfield (18-7) Saturday at Wright State, also at a time to be announced.  Moeller (22-3) defeated Oak Hills, 61-58, in overtime Friday at Fairfield to extend its sectional championships streak to 10 years and move on to the district.    Springfield beat Springboro, 61-52, Saturday night to win the Dayton 2 Sectional title at Butler.

Elder (19-5), riding a six-game winning streak entering the sectional final, and La Salle put on a display that has become almost routine for Friday nights in the GCL South – as both teams put forth an all-put effort that saw bodies flying through the air, crashing to the ground, with many of the game’s key players bent over clinging to their shorts in the game’s final few minutes – trying to find the resolve to stay alive in the postseason.

Fleming, the GCL South leading scorer averaging 19.3 points, made big shot after big shot, and wound up sinking 9-of-12 field goals against a tough Elder defense.  The Lancers, playing without junior guard Tre Crigler who suffered a season-ending foot injury in practice earlier in the week, used their relentless style and quickness to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead, 41-32, after three quarters.

In what La Salle coach Dan Fleming called his team’s best quarter this year, La Salle outscored Elder, 19-9, in the third to take what briefly appeared to be a sizeable enough margin.  But not against Elder, which tied La Salle and Moeller for the league championship for the second straight season.  Senior forward Ryan Custer, who finished with a team-high 15 points, helped the Panthers rally to pull within three points twice down the stretch.

The Panthers got a three-pointer from Custer and a pair of free throws from senior Peyton Ramsey to cut the lead to 45-42 with just over two minutes remaining.  But Larkin drove the lane and knocked down a tough shot to make it 47-42.  After a driving layup by senior guard Joey Sabato made it 47-44, Elder got the ball back and had a good look at a potential game-tying three, but Ramsey’s shot went in and out.

La Salle put the game away when junior guard Da’Meak Brandon made two free throws with less than a second remaining.  It was just enough to enable La Salle to win the third meeting between the schools after splitting two meetings during the regular season.  Elder’s seniors finish a successful two-year run that includes a combined 41-8 overall record, a share of two league titles, and a perfect 20-0 record at The Pit during that span.

What might have enabled La Salle to eventually emerge victorious what that the Lancers trailed by only one at halftime, 23-22, after Elder connected on 9-of-13 field goals in the first half.  It seemed like the Panthers held a larger lead, but La Salle managed to stay close before coming alive in the third quarter.  Senior Nick Watson added nine points, while Larkin scored eight and Bandon six to pick up some of the scoring slack without Crigler.

For Elder, Custer played s solid game – hitting 5-of-7 field goals and 4-of-5 three-pointers.  Ramsey and Sabato each scored nine points, while senior guard Frankie Hofmeyer wound up with six.  Hofmeyer, second behind Fleming in scoring in the GCL South at 17.6 points, was tightly guarded all game and wound up going 2-of-7 from the field.   Hofmeyer scored a team-high 19 in Elder’s 56-50 win over La Salle on January 8.