Moeller, Elder Ready For District Hoops Finals

03/09/2019

Posted on 3/9/2019 at 11:05 a.m.

GCL South Teams To Begin, End Day at University of Dayton Arena

If you are a Greater Catholic League South Division basketball fan, it will be long one at the University of Dayton Arena as GCL South members Moeller and Elder begin and end the four Division I district championship games scheduled there today as part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament.  Defending state champion and No. 1 seed and unbeaten Moeller looks to extend its overall winning streak to 45 games when it faces Winton Woods for the second time this season in the District 1 final at 1 p.m., while Elder looks to make it nine wins in the last 10 games when it opposes Springfield in the District 4 final for the second straight year at 9 p.m.

In between the GCL South games, Centerville (20-5) – which has won 16 consecutive games – will play Mason (18-4) in the District 2 title game at 3 p.m., the second game of the day session followed by Greater Miami Conference champion Lakota East (19-5), winner of six straight, versus Kettering Fairmont (17-8) in the first game of the night doubleheader at 7 p.m.

The winners advance to the regional semifinals next Wednesday at 6:16 and 8 p.m. at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.  Should Moeller and Elder both win today, they would not meet until the regional final should they each win the respective semifinal matchups.  In the semis, Moeller would face either East or Fairmont, while Elder would play either Centerville or Mason.

But first things first – Moeller and Elder must defeat opponents today that also are playing their best basketball of the season.  Moeller (24-0), which has not lost since December 2017, played at Winton Woods earlier this season – posting a 60-42 victory on January 29 behind 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists from senior Alec Pfriem and 12 points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots, three assists and two steals from senior Miles McBride on what was a rare off-shooting night for the Crusaders – who connected on 21-of-46 field goals, 45.7 percent, and made just one three-pointer.

Moeller, though, had its customary stingy defense working and held Winton Woods to 37.2 percent shooting (16-of-43) and 1-of-11 from three-point range.  As a team, Moeller did sink 17-of-21 free throws led by 8-of-8 from Pfriem and 6-of-6 from sophomore Logan Duncomb.  Moeller is winning by an average margin of 26.9 points per game this season, with only Lakota East (61-53) and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne (62-55) losing in single digits.  The Crusaders have won their first three postseason games by an average of 28.3 points.  Winton Woods (16-8) is playing its best basketball this season, having won six straight including a 53-52 victory against Turpin last Saturday in the district semifinals.

Elder (14-10), which has won four straight, has certainly earned its way to the district final – capturing the last two tournament games in overtime – the first a 43-41 win against neighborhood rival Oak Hills on February 28 in the sectional, and then 56-42 last Saturday against Sycamore to keep its postseason run alive and earn another shot at Springfield.  Last season, Elder fell to the Wildcats, 61-45, in the district semifinal at UD Arena.  Panther fans are hoping the steady play of junior guard Willard Cluxton combined with the return of a now-healthy Michael Bittner and the recent emergence of junior center Luke Kandra lead to a different outcome later tonight.

Kandra, who had scored in double figures only once this season (posting a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds) in the regular-season finale, a 42-35 win against La Salle to clinch second place in the GCL South, had team highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds to help lead Elder against Sycamore.  He also sank 9-of-9 free throws, as the Panthers knocked down 16-of-21 free throws in that game after only converting 12-of-24 in the previous game against Oak Hills, helping contribute to the OT.

The 6-foot-4 junior scored eight points against Oak Hills, while sinking both of his free-throw attempts.  Cluxton has been a steady performer, leading his team with an 11.1 average and having scored in double figures in five of the last eight games.  Bittner is rounding into his midseason form after being forced to sit out until January 18, missing better than half of the regular season while recovering from an injury he suffered In the first quarter of the opening game of the state football playoffs.  His return has helped spark a late-season resurgence by Elder.  The Panthers’ only loss since January 22 was at Moeller, 59-32, on February 8.

Springfield (16-9) has won three straight in the postseason – the most recent a 65-60 win against Sidney in the district semifinals.  The Wildcats  tied Centerville at 10-2 atop the Cardinal Division of the Greater Western Ohio Conference.  Springfield split its two regular-0season meetings with Centerville.

Tickets for today’s games are available at the UD Arena Box Office.  Tickets are $7 per session, and good for both games in either the afternoon or evening sessions.