Moeller Now One Win From Perfection, Title


Posted on 3/25/2017 at 9:50 a.m.

Crusaders Rally To Beat Pickerington Central In DI Semis

Junior guard Jeremiah Davenport came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points to pace four double-figure scorers as Moeller outscored Pickerington Central, 20-9, in the fourth quarter to record a come-from-behind 57-47 win over the Tigers in the Division I semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Basketball Tournament Friday evening at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus.

Moeller (28-0) is now one win away from completing a perfect season and earning the school’s fourth state hoops title. Standing in the way, though, is Massillon Jackson (27-2), which knocked off Lakewood St. Edward, 75-64, in Friday’s second DI semifinal.  Jackson prevented Moeller from winning a state title the last time the Crusaders advanced to the final – wining 57-34 over the Crusaders in the 2009-10 state championship game.  Tonight’s final is set for an 8:30 tipoff.

If victorious, Moeller will become the first Ohio DI school to finish undefeated since Zanesville went 26-0 in 1995. Moeller owns three state championships under coach Carl Kremer, winning in 1999, 2003 and 2007.  L:a Salle is the last GCL South team to bring home a state title, winning in the 2010-11 season.

Earlier today, Roger Bacon – a member of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division – will attempt to give the GCL its first title this season.  The Spartans (25-4) face Villa Angela-St. Joseph (22-6) at 5:15 p.m. in the Division III state final after defeating Archbold, 68-43, in Friday’s semifinals.  The Spartans are trying to win the third state title in school history and first since its historic win over Lebron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the 2002 state title game.  Roger Bacon won its first state crown in 1982.

For three quarters Friday, it looked as though Moeller’s unblemished season might come to an end.  The Crusaders trailed Pickerington Central (26-3), which entered the game riding a 13-game winning streak and was ranked No. 2 behind Moeller in the final regular-season Associated Press Di state poll, for much of the game.  

But Davenport, who had scored double figures only once this season (14 in a 60-24 win over Winton Woods on January 6), saved his best game for the most opportune moment – hitting 7-0f-8 field goals and grabbing a career-high seven rebounds in just 19 minutes for Moeller.  The 19 minutes played also matched a career high for Davenport, who played that same amount in a 69-46 win over Columbus Whitehall-Yearling, scoring four points and pulling down five rebounds back on December 16.

Sophomore guard Miles McBride added 13 points, while senior guard Keegan McDowell and junior guard Isaiah Payton each chi8pped in 10 for the Crusaders – including some key baskets down the stretch.  Payton sank a three-pointer to snap a 41-41 tie with 5:01 remaining, McDowell later followed with a three to make it 47-43, and then Payton sank another shot from long range to give Moeller a 50-45 lead with 2:30 left in the game.  Moeller outscored Pickerington Central, 16-6, in a 2:30 span down the stretch.

Davenport also gave the crowd of 11,091, which included a large section in Value City Arena from the Moeller High School student body, the game’s biggest moment to cheer when he grabbed a half court heave by Payton near the rim and laid it in as time expired in the first half to draw Moeller to within four at the break, 26-22.  The Crusaders had trailed by as many as eight points late in the second quarter.   It was Davenport’s basket with 2:11 remaining in the game that put Moeller in command, 62-45. 

All-Ohio sophomore point guard Jeremiah Francis led Pickerington Central with 16 points, but was limited to just 6-of-17 shooting by Moeller’s defense – which has been solid all season, allowing opponents to score just over 41 points per game.  University of North Carolina recruit Sterling Manley, a 6-foot-11 senior center, added 12 points and seven rebounds.