La Salle, St. Xavier Advance To District Hoops Title Game


Posted on 2/29/2020 at 11:42 a.m.

King Of The Road III To Determine Which Teams Heads To Regional
Something must give when La Salle and St. Xavier meet in a district final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament on March 8 at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. The two Greater Catholic League South Division rivals, located just a few miles apart on North Bend Road, will meet for a third time this season after each posted victories against solid competition Friday night in the district semifinals – extending their combined winning streak to 34 games against non-GCL South Division opponents.
Tipoff for the district final is set for 8 p.m. next Sunday at XU’s on-campus arena following La Salle’s 59-55 victory against Walnut Hills last night at Lakota West High School and St. Xavier’s 49-39 win over Hamilton at Fairfield High School.  The league rivals met twice during regular-season GCL South play, with La Salle winning both meetings – 50-47 on January 17 at La Salle and then 51-42 at St. Xavier on February 7.
Moeller, the two-time defending Division I state champion, looks to join its GCL South colleagues in the district finals when it meets Western Hills in the semifinals at 7 p.m. today at Hamilton High School.  If victorious, the Crusaders would meet the winner of Dayton Stebbins-Springboro at Cintas Center at 3 p.m. next Sunday in one of four Southwest Ohio district finals slated for that day.
La Salle (22-3) used an 18-7 third-quarter spurt to open up a 23-21 halftime lead against Walnut Hills, before needing to hold off a fourth-quarter rally by the Eagles to post a third straight postseason win.  The Lancers, who have now won 12 of their last 14 games, are now 19-0 against non-league competition.  Walnut Hills (17-7) entered the district final having won seven of eight games, including three straight in the postseason – though La Salle defeated the Eagles, 65-51, in a regular-season meeting in early January at La Salle.   Walnut Hills finished second behind district finalist Turpin in the regular-season Eastern Cincinnati Conference standings.
The Lancers fell behind 2-12 after Walnut Hills went on a run but, following a timeout by Lancers’ coach Pat Goedde, La Salle responded with an 11-point run to take a two-point halftime lead.  La Salle picked up there to start the second half, and eventually outscored the Eagles, 29-7, to take a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter.  Junior Justin Lovette led La Salle with 18 points, while seniors Derek Eddings and Jaylen Lemons added 5 and 12 points, respectively.
St. Xavier (16-7), which has now won 15 consecutive games against non-GCL South opponents after opening the season with back-to-back close road losses to Princeton and Lakota East, to open the season, faced a Hamilton team that had won seven straight and 10 of its last 11 games. The Big Blue wound up the regular season tied for third with Mason in the 10-team Greater Miami Conference behind only Lakota East, which plays in a district final tonight, and Oak Hills.
St. Xavier got off to a sound start, taking a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, then increased the advantage to eight points at halftime and took a 12-point advantage into the final eight minutes behind balanced scoring and a stringy defense.  Junior guard Kobe Rodgers led the Bombers with 17 points, while senior Hank Thomas added 13 and senior Avery Wilson chipped in with 10.  The trio combined to score 40 of St. Xavier’s points on a night when the Bombers connected on 17-of-29 field goals, good for 56.6 percent.