By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
The Greater Catholic League South Division basketball teams upped their combined record to 6-0 in the postseason after Elder and La Salle recorded second-round victories in sectional tournament play Tuesday night. The outcome of the Elder versus Mason game literally came down to the final seconds, when Panthers’ sophomore guard Willard Cluxton notched his fourth and final assist by finding junior Jake O’Brien, who converted a layup for the go-ahead basket with 1.5 seconds remaining and gave Elder a 60-58 victory against Mason in a Cincinnati Division I sectional game at Fairfield High School.
Elder advances to meet Winton Woods in the sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Fairfield. Winton Woods advanced with a 61-49 win over Walnut Hills.
While not needing the final seconds like its GCL South counterpart did in the first game, La Salle did need a big second half to emerge with a 67-57 win over Hamilton Tuesday night at Fairfield. La Salle, which has now won five straight games, advances to meet Lakota East in the sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hamilton. East advanced with a 56-29 win over Milford last night at Hamilton.
Senior guard Zach Harp led Elder (13-11) with 21 points, while senior guard Brett Marsh added 16 points and six rebounds, and junior forward Michael Bittner finished with 12. The trio connected on 17-of-25 field goals for the Panthers, who rallied to outscore Mason, 19-11, in the final quarter to earn the victory and advance. Elder trailed by seven at the end of the first quarter, but managed to narrow the gap to three points at halftime. Mason, however, extended the advantage to 47-41 going into the fourth quarter before Elder came alive down the stretch.
La Salle senior forward Riley Haubner, the GCL South leading scorer, had another big night for the Lancers – finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Haubner went 14-of-16 from the free-throw line. He was joined in double figures by senior forward Henry Louden, who had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kobyn Lambert and Nathan Vogelpohl came off the La Salle bench to score 10 points each, going a combined 8-of-12 from the field. La Salle trailed by one point at halftime, but outscored the Big Blue, 19-14, in the third quarter and then 21-15 in the final eight minutes. La Salle shot 54.8 percent from the field, hitting 23-of-42 field goals.
Moeller and St. Xavier, the remaining two GCL South teams, are back in action tonight. Moeller (20-3), the sectional’s No. 1 seed, meets Talawanda at 7:30 p.m. at Hamilton. The Crusaders are a perfect 13-0 this calendar year. St. Xavier (16-7) plays Wilmington at 7:30 tonight at Lakota West. If Moeller and St. Xavier are victorious, all four GCL South teams will advance to sectional finals.