By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Anyone wondering if a trek to Florida over the holidays to compete in an invitational tournament against out-of-state opponents might slow top-ranked and unbeaten Moeller got a resounding answer in Thursday’s first round of the Suncoast Holiday Classic at Sarasota’s Riverview High School.
The Crusaders, who had won their first six games against regional teams this season by an average of more than 35 points, combined its customary hot shooting, balanced scoring, paralyzing defense and rebounding margin to score 21 or more points in each of the first three quarters on the way to a 76-43 victory over Champagnat Catholic from Hialeah, Fla. in the tournament opener. Moeller (7-0), the defending Ohio Division I state champion, ran its winning streak to 27 games and remained perfect this calendar year in the process.
Senior guard Miles McBride, a West Virginia University commit, led Moeller with a game-high 20 points, hitting 8-of-9 field goals and 4-of-4 free throws to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior Max Land added sophomore Alex Williams each added 10 points, while senior Alex Pfriem scored nine and grabbed a game-best 11 rebounds for the Crusaders – who sank 31-of-51 field goals (60.8 percent) and 11-of-14 free throws (78.6) while outrebounding its opponent, 39-15.
Moeller will attempt to make it 27 straight in 2019 when it faces Booker High School from Sarasota at 6:15 p.m. today. Booker advanced with a 59-50 win against Louisville St. Xavier in the opening round.
St. Xavier, one of three Greater Catholic League South Division teams in action Thursday, went to overtime before losing to Canisius from Buffalo, N.Y., 56-47, in the opening round of the St. Pius X Christmas Classic being held at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta. As a result, the Bombers will now face Bishop Kenny from Jacksonville, Fla. in the second round of the 16-team event at 2:30 p.m. today. The loss was the second straight for St. Xavier (4-3) to a team from outside Greater Cincinnati, having fallen to Westerville North, 53-43, at a neutral site last Saturday.
Elder stayed home for the holidays and overcame a 22-20 halftime deficit last night to record a 59-46 win against Shroder last night at The Pit in Price Hill. Senior Aidan Byrne scored 14 points with three assists and three steals, while junior Willard Cluxton had 13 points, five assists and three steals for the Panthers – who took a 38-35 lead after three quarters before pulling away in the final quarter Junior Connor Keyes had a team-high seven rebounds for Elder (5-4), which hosts Lakota West at 7:30 tonight.
La Salle takes the court tonight following a 10-day layoff. The Lancers (3-3) will host Centerville at 7:30 in Montfort Heights before hitting the road to face Kings at that same time Saturday to close out their 2018 schedule. La Salle last played on December 18, posting a 46-36 win at home against Lakota West behind 14 points from junior guard Jaylen Lemons – who leads the team in scoring and is fourth in the GCL South, averaging 13.5 a game.
GCL South play begins on Friday, January 4 with La Salle at St. Xavier on opening night. All four league teams are in action on January 11 with Elder hosting St. Xavier and Moeller beginning another title defense by hosting La Salle. The Crusaders have won outright or shared the last five GCL South basketball championships. All league varsity games tip off at 7:30 p.m.