Moeller Edges La Salle In GCL South Opening Thriller

01/11/2020

Posted on 1/11/2020 at 12:01 p.m.

Thomas’ 31-Point Career Night Leads St. Xavier To Win Over Elder
 
The much-anticipated matchup between two—time defending Division I state champion Moeller, the state’s top-ranked team, and undefeated La Salle, off to its best start in nearly two decades, certainly did nothing to disappoint a sellout crowd at La Salle High School on opening night in the Greater Catholic League South Division.  Junior Logan Duncomb scored four of his nine points during a 6-0 run in just over a minute in the fourth quarter to help Moeller erase a one-point deficit to take a 45-40 lead and hold on for a 45-43 victory over the Lancers in the first of two meetings this season.
 
In Friday’s other GCL South game, senior Hank Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed a game-high  13 rebounds – posting his third double-double of the season – to lead St. Xavier to a 58-45 victory over Elder at St. Xavier.  The win was the ninth straight for St. Xavier, which has not lost since December 3 (49-43 at 10-2 Lakota East) and won its league opener for the first time in a decade.  Thomas scored more than half of his team’s points, hitting 12-of-22 field goals, and is now averaging 14.3 points to rank third in the GCL South in scoring.
 
The four GCL South teams entered league play with a combined 32-6 record in just over a month against non-conference opponents.  Moeller, which has not lost a GCL South game since February 2016 (a 48-43 loss at Elder) has  won or shared the league title for seven consecutive seasons.  The Crusaders have posted perfect league records each of the last three seasons and currently own a 20-game winning streak in the GCL South.
 
However, it was anything but easy to keep the streak intact against a La Salle team off to its best start since opening 19-0 in the 2003-04 season.  The Lancers were strong early, too, jumping out to a 16-7 lead late in the first quarter on a three-pointer by senior guard Jaylen Lemons, who led La Salle with 16 points.  Moeller would take a slim 24-22 lead at halftime and the game remained tight throughout.
 
A free throw by junior Jeff Queen Jr. with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter gave La Salle a 40-39 lead, and Queen followed a three-pointer to put the Lancers up 43-39 lead at the midway point of the final quarter.  But baskets in the next minute-plus by Duncomb, senior guard Max Land (who led his team with 14 points) and Duncomb again with 3:11 left edged Moeller in front, 45-33.  Neither team would score again, and Moeller was able to maintain its league winning streak and open what should be a highly contested GCL South race with a key road victory.
 
Moeller (10-1, 1-0 GCL South) is off until Tuesday, when it hosts Huber Heights Wayne at 7:30 p.m.  The Crusaders debuted at No. 1 in the firstAssociated Press DI state poll that was released Wednesday.  La Salle (10-1, 0-1), No. 6 in the first statewide rankings, will attempt to begin a new streak Monday, hitting the road to travel to Winton woods.  Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.
 
Like La Salle, St. Xavier entered its league opener with a lengthy winning streak.  And, like the Lancers, St. Xavier (9-2, 1-0) also got off to a fast start – outscoring Elder, 21-9, in the first quarter to take a lead it would never relinquish on the way to winning its GCL South opener for the first time since defeating Elder, 66-58, on January 8, 2010.
 
Junior guard Kobe Rodgers – who has been solid all season and is third in the league in scoring at 13.7 per game  – was the only other Bomber in double figures, finishing with 10 points to go along with 12 rebounds.  Elder (6-4, 0-1) was led by 11 points each from senior Willard Cluxton and junior David Larkins.  The Panthers entered the game having won five of their last six games.  Elder is the lone GCL south team in action today, hosting Colerain at 7:30 p.m. at The Pit in Price Hill.  St. Xavier is off until it travels to Woodward at 7:30 Tuesday night.