Moeller Rallies For Third Straight District Hoops Title

03/06/2016

Posted on 3/6/2016 at 11:30 a.m.

La Salle Unable To Overcome Slow Start In Finals Loss To Centerville

Junior guard Keegan McDowell scored a team-high 18 points, hitting all five of this three-point attempts, to help Moeller rally and defeat Springfield, 64-58, in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I Southwest District Tournament Saturday night at Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center.  The district championship was the third straight and ninth since 2003 for the Crusaders, who also won from 2003 to 2005 and 2010 to 2012.

Fellow Greater Catholic League South Division member La Salle was unable to overcome a slow start and an off-shooting night In Saturday night’s first district final, falling to Centerville, 58-38.  Senior forward Jeremy Larkin had 12 points and junior guard C.J. Fleming added 11 to lead the Lancers, who managed just two points in the first quarter, trailed by 11 points at halftime and were never able to recover.

Moeller (23-3), which has now won seven straight games after consecutive league losses to Elder and La Salle late in the regular season, advances to meet Centerville (16-10), winner of six games in a row, in the regional semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.  The Crusaders made it to this same game last year before losing to Springfield, 61-57.

Coach Carl Kramer’s team trailed Springfield again late this time, but senior guard Kenny Wead nailed a three-pointer with 2:12 remaining to give Moeller the lead for good, 56-54.  Wead, coming off a career-best, 16-point performance in a sectional final win over Oak Hills, 61-58, in overtime eight days earlier, wound up with six points for Moeller – which hit 24-of-40 field goals (60 percent).

The Crusaders trailed 34-24 at halftime after Springfield made 9-of-14 three-point shots in the first half, but Moeller’s defense allowed just two made three-pointers in the second half.  Moeller, too, relied on balanced scoring with four players in double figures.  Sophomore guard Isaiah Payton scored 15, while seniors Sam McDowell and Trey McBride each scored 10.  Junior Riley Voss had six rebounds and five assists.

Unlike Moeller, La Salle – which had won three straight and 13 of its last 14 games – struggled from the field against Centerville.  The Lancers made only one basket in the first quarter, a layup by Larkin, and trailed 13-2 after one period. La Salle, which shot under 25 percent from the field in the first half, wound up with a season-low points against Centerville.  La Salle’s previous low was 39 in a two-point victory over Moeller.

The Lancers, who managed just two made three-point goals, lost in the district final for the third consecutive season.  La Salle, however, put together another outstanding season – finishing at 21-4 and earning a share of the GCL South championship for the second straight year.  The Lancers have a combined 45-10 in the last two seasons under coach Dan Fleming, including back-to-back seasons with 20 or more victories.

Two lengthy streaks came to an end in Saturday’s afternoon session.  First, Wilmington snapped Mason’s 22-game winning streak behind 35 points from senior forward Jarron Cumberland  in a 63-38 victory in the first district final.  Then, Lakota East defeated Huber Heights Wayne, the defending Division I state champion and the state’s top-ranked team, 60-57, to advance.  Nationally ranked Wayne entered play riding a 33-game winning streak.

Wilmington (25-1), earning its first district title, will play Lakota East (18-7) in Wednesday’s first regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m.  Moeller is the only team to beat Wilmington this season, using a relentless defense to earn a 40-31 at Moeller on January 23.  Cumberland, the University of Cincinnati recruit and school’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2,00 career points, was held to just 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting against Moeller.