By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
The Greater Catholic League South Division basketball teams won two of three games against non-conference opponents Friday. Defending Division I state champion Moeller extended its winning streak to 24 games and remained undefeated this calendar year with another lopsided victory, this time at perennial Southwest Ohio power Wayne in Huber Heights. Elder also was on the road, and the Panthers recorded their second victory in the last three games away from The Pit with a win at Winton Woods, while La Salle got off to another slow start and was unable to recover in a home loss to defending Kentucky state champion Covington Catholic.
St. Xavier, the remaining GCL South team, did not play Friday. The Bombers, who recorded consecutive victories last week against Princeton and Lakota East (two Greater Miami Conference members then ranked in the top five of The Enquirer’s Division I area coaches’ poll) will attempt to win their third straight game when they travel to face GCL Co-Ed member Roger Bacon at 7:30 tonight. St. Xavier(2-1) is No. 6 in this week’s rankings.
Here is a look at the GCL South games Friday night:
Moeller 70, Wayne 48 – Balanced scoring, accurate shooting, strong rebounding, and a third straight fast start helped Moeller to its fourth straight victory by 22 or more points to begin this season. The No. 1 Crusaders had four players in double figures against Wayne – Miles McBride (15), Logan Duncomb (13), Max Land (11) and Alec Pfriem (10) – while shooting 57.4 percent from the field (27-of-47) and 84.6 percent from the free-throw line (11-of-13). Moeller outrebounded Wayne, 34-19, led by McBride (seven), Duncomb and Pfriem (five each). Moeller held Wayne to just 13 field goals.
Fast starts have been the norm for Moeller this season. Against Wayne (2-3), the Crusaders jumped out to a 27-8 lead after the first quarter before coming out of the locker room to outscore the Warriors, 19-3, in the third quarter. In its last game against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, a 99-62 victory, Moeller led 28-9 after the first eight minutes. The previous game against Hughes, an 89-45 win, Moeller scored the game’s first 16 points and led 25-5 after one quarter. Moeller opened the season with an 85-42 win against Lexington Bryan Station, opening with a 19-11 edge after one quarter.
Moeller also defeated Wayne during its incredible postseason run last season, when the Crusaders outscored eight opponents in the state tournament by an average of more than 20 points a game. Moeller beat Wayne, 65-53, in the regional final to advance to Columbus. The loss was only the second last season for Wayne, which entered that game with a 25-1 record.
Coach Carl Kremer’s team should get a solid test Friday, when the Crusaders host Covington Catholic at 7:30 p.m. at the Brisben Family Education Center on its Montgomery Road campus. CovCath handed Moeller a 58-53 loss last December in Park Hills, Ky., one of only three defeats in 2017-18 for the Crusaders.
Elder 46, Winton Woods 41 – Junior guard Willard Cluxton scored a career-high 21 points, including four three-point goals, to lead Elder to the road victory. Cluxton, whose previous career high was 13 in the Panthers’ season-opening 62-55 victory at Fairfield, helped Elder post a big second quarter. The Panthers led by two points, 11-9, after the first eight minutes before scoring 24 in the second quarter to take a 35-22 halftime lead. Junior forward Bryson Merz added seven for Elder – which lost to Winton Woods (2-2), 49-39, at The Pit last December.
Elder, however, came back posted a 56-51 victory against Winton Woods in the state tournament last season, earning the Panthers a trek to Dayton and an appearance in the district final. In that game, Brett Marsh scored a team-high 19 points while Trevor Estep added 12 for Elder – which lost to Springfield, 51-45, in the next game – ending a three-game, postseason winning streak that included a 60-58 victory against Mason in the second round.
CovCath 50, La Salle 33 – The Lancers again struggled to a slow start, with just two points in the first quarter and 11 in the second to trail CovCath, 20-13, at halftime. La Salle (2-3) was never able to get untracked offensively, as the Colonels won every quarter to record their fourth straight win. Junior guard Jaylen Lemons was the lone Lancer in double figures, finishing with a game-high 13 points, while all five of CovCath’s starters scored eight or more points – led by 10 points and seven rebounds from Grant Disken. Tyler Fleek added nine points and seven boards, while Jack Davin added nine points, four rebounds and two steals.
La Salle scored just six first-quarter points in a 56-49 loss to Kettering Alter on Tuesday.
CovCath (6-1) had a significant rebounding edge, 30-11, that included 10 offensive rebounds. The Colonels shot well, too, hitting 19-of-35 field goals while sinking all nine free-throw attempts. La Salle connected on only 12-of-38 field goals, including 6-of-20 three-pointers. Up next for the Lancers, who have lost two straight and three of four, is Lakota West (2-2) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at home. West opened its season by rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat St. Xavier, 56-52.