By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Seniors Jeremiah Davenport and Jaxson Hayes combined to score 26 points and pull down 16 rebounds to help Moeller rally from a five-point deficit and record a 46-42 victory against Clark from Las Vegas early Friday afternoon in the prestigious Beach Ball Classic at Myrtle Beach Convention Center in South Carolina. All Greater Catholic League teams were in tournament action, with Elder snapping its four-game losing streak with a win in Florida and St. Xavier and La Salle splitting games in two Ohio holiday basketball tournaments.
In its victory over highly regarded Clark, which has won 11 of its first 14 games, Moeller (7-2) also got 10 points from senior guard Isaiah Payton. The Crusaders blocked six shots, including a team-high three from GCL South leader Hayes (who averages 3.8 per game), and forced Clark into committing 15 turnovers. Moeller won despite shooting below 50 percent for the second straight game, hitting 18-of-40 field goals and connecting on just 1-of-8 three-pointers.
Moeller concludes its four games at the 16-team event today, when it meets Imhotep Charter from Philadelphia at 3:30 p.m. in the fifth-place game. Imhotep should be quite a challenge for Moeller, having won the Beach Ball Classic in 2016 and coming off a 31-1 season that included its fifth Pennsylvanian Interscholastic Athletic Association state championship. Long Island (NY) Lutheran, which handed Moeller its lone loss of the tournament, meets Montverde, Fla., which defeated Imhotep, in the Beach Ball Classic final at 7:30 this evening. Imhotep and Moeller are 2-1 in the event.
Elder (3-5), which had struggled offensively in its first game at the Suncoast Holiday Classic at Riverview High School in Sarasota, jumped out to a 19-5 lead after one quarter and coasted to a 62-33 victory against Brandon, Fla. The Panthers also outscored Brandon (2-7), 15-6, in the final quarter. Elder will now face Lakewood (6-4) from St. Petersburg at 4:30 today in the final game of its trek to Florida. Lakewood beat Fivay from Hudson, Fla., 65-52, in its previous game. Coach Joe Schoenfeld’s Panthers are scheduled to open GCL South play Friday when they host La Salle in the league opener at 7:30 p.m. at The Pit.
St. Xavier got 12 points each from seniors Bobby Jefferson, who also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, and Chase wolf to record a 62-43 win over Licking Heights from Pataskala, Ohio in the first game of the Newark Christmas Tournament at Newark High School. Sophomore Danny Greive and junior Nathan Stockman each added nine points for St. Xavier (5-2), which has won three of its last four games. The Bombers outscored Licking Heights (5-3) in every quarter and won the rebounding battle, 37-26. St. Xavier advances to play host Newark (5-2) in the title game at 4:30 this afternoon. Newark defeated Paynesville Harvey in its game Friday.
La Salle took a slim two-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Lancers were unable to stop a late rally by Reynoldsburg in a 68-56 loss in the second game of the Stephen Gussler Holiday Invitational at Thomas Worthington High School in Greater Columbus. Senior forward Riley Haubner had another big game offensively for La Salle (3-3), scoring a game-high 25 points, while senior Henry Louder added 10 for the Lancers. Reynoldsburg (6-4) relied on balanced scoring, with three players scoring 15 or more points. As a team, Reynoldsburg hit 26-of-35 field goals, good for 74.3 percent shooting for the game.
The Lancers return to Cincinnati to face Oak Hills at 8 tonight. The game is being played at Mount St. Joseph University’s Harrington Center. Oak Hills, a member of the Greater Miami Conference, is off to a 4-3 start overall and 3-1 in the GMC. The Highlanders have lost two straight, including a 56-55 setback at home against GCL South member St. Xavier. The Bombers won that game on a tip in at the buzzer by senior Brandon Gilbert. La Salle and Oak Hills last played on January 10, 2105, when La Salle recorded a 58-50 win at home behind 20 points from guard C.J. Fleming. Oak Hills is led by senior forward Nick Deifel, who ranks fourth in the GMC in scoring at 16.9 points per game.