By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
It was a tough Saturday for the Greater Catholic League South basketball teams, as La Salle, Moeller and St. Xavier each lost close games – the three league members falling by a combined margin of just 11 pints to close out the 2017 portion of their schedules. Elder, the fourth GCL South member, was on the other side of a close game in its holiday tournament final one day earlier, posting a 44-41 over Lakewood High School from St. Petersburg, Fla. on a late three-pointer by junior forward Will Austing to help the Panthers close out the Suncoast Holiday Classic by winning their final two games.
Here is a look at the GCL South final games of 2017:
Moeller Sixth In Beach Ball – Seniors Jeremiah Davenport and Jaxson Hayes continued to play well for the Crusaders, but a combined 24 points and 12 rebounds wasn’t enough in a 47-44 loss to Imhotep Charter from Philadelphia in the fifth-place game of the prestigious Beach Ball Classic at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in South Carolina. Davenport had 14 points and six rebounds, while Hayes added 10 points and six boards as Moeller (7-3) held a 28-25 lead at halftime. But a game-high 17 points from Jamil Riggins led Imhotep (9-1) to its second-half comeback victory over the Crusaders – who finished 2-2 in its four games in the talent-laden field.
Moeller’s next game is against Winton Woods at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
St. X Falls To Host Newark – In what was a close game throughout, including being tied at 36 entering the fourth quarter, St. Xavier ultimately suffered from an off-shooting night in a 52-49 loss to host school Newark (6-2) in the championship game of the Newark Christmas Tournament. Senior Chase Wolf led the Bombers (5-3) with 18 points, while junior Nathan Stockman added 16 points and a team-high four assists. St. Xavier shot just 35.7 percent (20-0f-56) and connected on only 5-of-17 from three-point range. Wolf did knock down 4-of-8 shots from long range. St. Xavier opens 2018 by hosting Shroder Paideia at 7:3 0.m. Wednesday.
Second Half Hurts La Salle – After playing the last two days at a holiday tournament in Greater Columbus, La Salle returned to Cincinnati for a matchup with rival Oak Hills at Mount St. Joseph University. The Lancers managed a 17-12 lead at halftime, but scoring only seven points in each of the final two quarters ultimately doomed La sale in a 36-21 loss. La Salle (3-4), which dropped its second straight game, was led by 10 points from senior Riley Haubner, the GCL South leading scorer entering the game, who was 2-of-11 from the field and 1-of-8 from three-point range. Haubner had scored 25 or more points in four of his first six games.
La Salle did manage to hold Oak Hills senior and leading scorer Nick Deifel to one field goal and seven points, but senior guard Marcus Dockery came off the bench to score a game-high 15 points in just 19 minutes – knocking down 5-of-6 field goals and 4-of-5 free throws to help Oak Hills (5-3) outscore the Lancers, 24-14, in the second half – including 14-7 in the final eight minutes. La Salle hit just 9-of-33 field goals (27.8 percent) and made 4-of-19 from three-point range. The Lancers are off until Friday, when they open the GCL South schedule by traveling to Elder for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
Elder Wins Second Straight – After losing the first game at Riverview High School in Sarasota last week, Elder (4-5)won for the second straight day in its annual holiday trek to the Sunshine State. The Panthers started slowly, trailing 23-14 at halftime, before coming alive against Lakewood (6-5). Elder outscored its opponent, 30-18, over the final two quarters to earn the victory. The score was tied at 41 when Elder took a time out with 5.3 seconds remaining, setting up what turned out to be the game-winning shot by Austing with 1.5 seconds left. Senior guard Zach Harp was named to the all-tournament team for his play in the three games.