By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Seniors Alec Pfriem and Miles McBride scored 20 and 15 points, respectively, and Moeller made two of every three shots it attempted from the field in an 89-45 victory against Hughes Friday night in the Queen City Classic at Princeton High School, extending the Crusaders’ winning streak to 22 games and keeping the defending Division I state champions unbeaten in the calendar year.
Elder was the only other Greater Catholic League South Division basketball team in action last night, falling to Northern Kentucky perennial power Cooper, 53-50, at The Pit in Price Hill. Cooper is ranked No. 3 in The Enquirer’s Northern Kentucky coaches’ poll after week one of the regular season. Elder led by five points with two minutes left, but Jaguars’ junior Kevin Centers scored all seven of his points in the final minutes – including a go-ahead pair of tree throws with 28 seconds remaining.
La Salle (2-1) is off until Tuesday, when the Lancers open their home schedule against Kettering Alter (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. St. Xavier (1-1) looks to make it two straight wins when the Bombers host Lakota East (2-0) – ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer’s Division I area coaches’ poll – at 7:30 tonight. No. 1 Moeller plays again today – hosting Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (1-1), the alma mater of Los Angeles Lakers’ standout Lebron James at 5 p.m. at the Brisben Family Education Center on Moeller’s Montgomery Road campus.
Then, Moeller will attempt to pick up where it left off against Hughes – when the Crusaders knocked down 37-of-56 field goals, including 7-of-12 from three-point range, while dishing out 23 assists to go along with just seven turnovers in the team’s second consecutive lopsided win to open the season. Last Saturday, Moeller tipped off the season with an 85-42 victory against Lexington Bryan Station as part of the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Hillsboro High School.
Pfriem had his second straight solid game, hitting 9-of-12 field goals to go along with team highs of seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. McBride, too, turned in another impressive performance with 6-of-10 shooting, five rebounds and two assists. Sophomore forward Alex Williams was the third Moeller player in double figures, coming off the bench to score 11 points, with junior forward Max Land chipping in nine. Moeller was in control from the opening tipoff, scoring the game’s first 16 points to lead the Big Reds, 25-5, after the first quarter. Moeller’s defense was again strong, limiting Hughes (1-1) to 30.9 percent shooting, including 2-of-19 from three-point range.
It was a tight game between Elder and Cooper (3-1), which has a combined 56-10 record the last two seasons including a trip to the Kentucky state final in 2016-17, and Elder – looking to rebound from a 57-53 loss at Badin earlier in the week. The Panthers had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Aidan Byrne’s three-pointer bounced off the back of the rim to give Cooper its third straight win over Elder since the interstate series started n 2016-17.
Cooper was led by a game-high 19 points (all in the first half) from senior T.J. Deere, who hit 7-of-9 field goals including 4-of-6 from three-point range and converted all three free throws he attempted. Elder (1-2), which lost at Badin, 57-53, on Tuesday, had balanced scoring – led by Byrne (11), Willard Cluxton (9), Matthew Luebbe (8) and Anthony Holmes (8). The Panthers came back from a 32-25 halftime deficit and held a five-point lead with two minutes remaining before Cooper had a late surge to prevail. Next up for Elder is Western Hills (1-2). Tipoff is 7:30 tonight.