By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Defending Division I state champion Moeller roared out to a 42-11 halftime lead behind pinpoint shooting and tough defense to eventually post a 65-22 victory at Wilmington in basketball early Saturday evening, leaving no doubt it intended to take a perfect record this calendar year and a 26-game winning streak back south over the Christmas holiday. That’s where the Crusaders, winners of their first six games by an average margin of 35.4 points, are headed later this week. Moeller is traveling to Sarasota to play three games against national competition Thursday through Saturday. Two of Moeller’s three losses last season came a year ago in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Moeller – ranked No. 1 in The Enquirer’s latest Division I area coaches’ poll – was one of three ranked Greater Catholic League South Division teams in action last night. After junior guard Willard Cluxton nailed a three-point goal in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime for No. 9 Elder, GCL South Co-Ed member Roger Bacon rallied late for a come-from-behind, 58-57 victory at The Pit in Price Hill. No. 6 St. Xavier, vying for its fifth straight win, missed its final 14 shots and was outscored 8-0 in the final 2:05 in a 53-43 loss to Westerville North at Mount Vernon University’s Ariel Arena.
No. 10 La Salle did not play over the weekend.
Here is a look at the three GCL South games played Saturday:
Moeller 65, Wilmington 22 – Senior guard Miles McBride turned in a near perfect game, scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, to go along with six assists and three steals to pace Moeller – which outscored Wilmingto, 21-5 and 21-6, respectively, in the first two quarters. Sophomore Logan Duncomb added 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, while sophomore Alex Williams came off the bench to add 10 and also sink 4-of-5 shots. Senior Alex Pfriem had another outstanding all-around game, with nine points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
As a team, Moeller connected on 25-of-41 field goals, good for 61 percent. Moeller has made 178-of-300 field goals this season for a 59.3 team shooting percentage. Coach Carl Kremer’s team, which has not shot below 50 percent in any game, held Wilmington to just eight field goals and below 30 percent shooting. Fifteen players saw action for Moeller, which will take the next few days off to celebrate Christmas before hitting the road and heading to Sarasota to play in the Suncoast Holiday Classic. The Crusaders opening opponent is Champagnat Catholic from Hialeah, Fla. Tipoff is 4 p.m. Thursday at Riverview High School.
Roger Bacon 58, Elder 57 (OT) – With his team trailing by two points, 57-55, Roger Bacon junior guard Jordan McGee sank a game-winning, three-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining in OT to lead the Spartans to the road victory. Elder (4-4) had a chance to tie the game, but was unable to repeat the magic it had at the end of regulation – when Cluxton nailed a three-pointer to tie the score at 48 send the game into the extra period and give the Panthers a chance to extend their modest two-game winning streak.
Elder looked as though it might do just that, racing out to a five-point lead at 53-48 with just 1:14 left in the extra period. But Roger Bacon (3-4), which entered the game on a four-game losing streak, rallied back and pulled to within two before McGee sank the game-winner. McGee had connected on only six three-pointers in the Spartans’ first six games before his dramatic shot at The Pit. Elder, which had been traveling to St. Petersburg, Fla. in recent years over the break, is staying home for the holidays. Up next for the Panthers is a home game against Shroder at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Westerville North 53, St. Xavier 43 – A tough shooting night, compounded by no points in the final 3:39 prevented St. Xavier from extending its four-game winning streak. Senior guard Nathan Stockman was the lone Bomber in double figures, with 10 points (eight-plus below his league-leading average), on just 3-of-14 shooting. St. Xavier (4-2) managed to hit just 12-of-42 field goals and 6-of-22 from three-point range, yet still managed to hold a 32-30 lead with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter. Junior Hank Thomas, who entered the game nearly averaging a double-double, had just four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Like Moeller, St. Xavier will leave Greater Cincinnati to participate in a post-Christmas holiday event. The Bombers plan to make their annual trek to Atlanta to play in the St. Pius X Christmas Classic, featuring 16 teams from seven states playing in the three-day event at St. Pius X Catholic High School. First-round games tip off at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, with the Bombers slated to face Canisius High School from Buffalo, N.Y. at 8 that evening.
La Salle (3-3) has a pair of games this weekend, hosting Centerville at 7:30 p.m. Friday before traveling to face Kings at that same time Saturday. The Lancers posted a 46-36 win against Lakota West in their last game on December 18.