By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
It was an unbeaten Saturday night for the Greater Catholic League South Division on the basketball court. No. 1 Moeller played its first home game and recorded its third consecutive lopsided victory to remain undefeated in 2018 and solidify its early-season position as the area’s top-ranked team; St. Xavier and interim coach Brian Kellett stated their case to move into the Division I poll this week by defeating a second ranked team in the last four days; and Elder made the short drive on Glenway Avenue to snap a brief two-game losing streak by knocking off its neighborhood rival.
La Salle, the fourth GCL South team, had the night off.
Here is a look at the GCL South victories Saturday:
Moeller 99, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 62 – The Crusaders average margin of victory actually came down despite the 37-point win against perennial Northeast Ohio power SVSM, the alma mater of NBA superstar Lebron James. After scoring the game’s first 16 points and holding a 25-5 lead after one quarter Friday night in an 89-45 win over Hughes, Moeller got off to another fast start Saturday in its home debut – rolling to a 28-9 lead it would build on in the second half, thanks to 65.5 percent shooting (36-0f-55) that included 11-of-17 from three-point range.
Senior Alec Pfriem continued his fast start, scoring 22 points hitting 7-of-12 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. Senior Miles McBride added 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting with a team-high six assists and five rebounds. Sophomore Alex Williams scored 14 points off the bench, while classmate Logan Duncomb chipped in 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting as 11 different players scored for Moeller – which outrebounded the Fighting Irish (1-2) by six, 33-27, and had 25 assists to 11 turnovers.
Moeller (3-0) opened the season by defeating Lexington Bryan Station, 85-42, a week ago – giving the Crusaders three wins by an average margin of 41.3 points. In the process, Moeller – the defending DI state champion ranked No. 1 this season in The Enquirer’s area coaches’ poll – extended its winning streak to 23 games. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Crusaders, who travel up Interstate 75 to Huber Heights to oppose perennial Greater Dayton state power Wayne at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Wayne (2-2) was 25-1 last season before losing to Moeller, 65-53, in the postseason on March 16.
As a team, Moeller is shooting 61.7 percent from the field – having connected on 103-of-167 field goals in the first three games. The Crusaders have nailed 22-of-43 from three-point range. Duncomb leads the GCL South in field-goal percentage, hitting 12-of-16 shots for 75 percent. Pfriem is 19-of-32 from the field, for 59.4 percent, while McBride has made 18-of-31 shots for 58.1 percent.
St. Xavier 45, Lakota East 42 – The Bombers built a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter and held off a late comeback by No. 2 Lakota East to earn its second win in the week against a ranked team from the Greater Miami Conference. St. Xavier (2-1) also defeated No. 3 Princeton, 44-42, last Tuesday on a game-winning shot by junior forward Hank Thomas in the final seconds after Princeton had tied the game on a three-point goal.
Senior guard Nathan Stockman led the Bombers with 18 points against East, hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers, while also grabbing six rebounds. Stockman has scored in double figures in all three games. Thomas had another solid night, scoring a season-best 15 points to go along with eight rebounds, tying senior center Luke Pellot for the team lead in that category.
St. Xavier held East (2-1) – ranked behind Moeller in The Enquirer’s latest DI poll – to 37.8 percent shooting from the field, including 4-of-15 from three-point range. Senior Bash Wieland led the Thunderhawks with 14 points. St. Xavier is off until Saturday, when the Bombers hit the road to face GCL Co-Ed member Roger Bacon (2-1). Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.
Elder 56, Western Hills 51 – The Panthers rebounded from two close defeats earlier in the week and a slow start to even their record, rallying from a seven-point halftime deficit to score 40 points in the final two quarters behind a season-high 17 points from junior center Joe Royer and 12 from junior guard Bryson Merz. The win snapped a brief two-game skid for Elder (2-2), which lost at Badin, 57-53, on Tuesday and then fell at home to Cooper from Union, Ky., 53-50, on Friday. Elder outscored Western Hills (1-3), 40-27, in the second half to post the road win.
Elder travels to GCL Co-Ed member Purcell Marian at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. La Salle, the lone league team to not play last night, also faces a GCL South Co-Ed opponent Tuesday, when the Lancers host Kettering Alter in Monfort Heights. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. Alter has dropped its first two games after making it to the state football final in its classification.
La Salle (2-1) bounced back from an overtime loss at Withrow on opening weekend to defeat Purcell Marian, 53-50, on the road last Tuesday. The GCL South teams are a combined 9-4 after the first two weeks of the regular season.
League play begins early in 2019, with La Salle heading across North Bend Road to meet St. Xavier in the tipoff of GCL South games on Friday, January 4. Moeller and Elder open the following week, with the Crusaders hosting La Salle and St. Xavier traveling to Elder on Friday, January 11.