By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Seniors Jeremiah Davenport and Jaxson Hayes combined for more than half of their team’s points, and Moeller used a big third quarter to break open a close game and eventually emerge with a 65-50 victory over Kettering Fairmont in a Division I district final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon at the University of Dayton Arena. The win keeps the Crusaders perfect in the calendar year, at 16-0, and earns the team a trip to the regional semifinals to face Springfield at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday the Cintas Center on Xavier University’s campus.
Springfield ended the postseason run of Elder, the second Greater Catholic League South Division team trying to advance to the regional tournament, with a 51-45 victory at UD Arena late Saturday. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Elder, which had knocked off higher seeds Mason and Winton Woods in its last two games to advance to the district final. The Panthers finish their season at 14-12. Senior guard Zach Harp led Elder with 20 points, joining fellow seniors Brett Marsh (12) and Trevor Estep (six) to combine for 38 of the Panthers’ points.
Princeton emerged with a 53-51 win against fellow Greater Miami Conference member Lakota East in the first of the four district finals Saturday. The Vikings (23-3), winners of 11 straight games, advance to meet Huber Heights Wayne (24-1) in the second regional semifinal Wednesday at Cintas Center, with the tip time scheduled for 8 p.m. Wayne defeated Oak Hills, 68-54, to remain alive in the postseason, and the Warriors are riding a six-game winning streak after suffering their lone loss this season to Springfield, 54-47, last month.
The regional final is 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cintas Center.
Moeller (23-3) is looking for its second straight trip to the DI Final Four, after advancing to the state championship game last March before suffering its first loss , 39-38, to Massillon Jackson. The Crusaders held a 23-20 halftime edge against Fairmont before outscoring the Firebirds, 23-10, in the third quarter to take control. Davenport, a Wright State University recruit, finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. He connected on 7-of-10 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws, while senior Jaxson Hayes added 17 points, four rebounds and seven blocked shots. Hayes, a Texas recruit, was named the GCL South Defensive Player of the Year averaging a league-best four blocks per game.
Crusaders’ junior guard Alex Pfriem played a solid game, scoring 10 points, with five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Moeller had another sound shooting night, connecting on 22-of-35 field goals for 62.9 percent. Moeller defeated Springfield, 56-39, on the road February 3, breaking open a close game by outscoring the Wildcats, 21-9, in the fourth quarter. Davenport led Moeller with 18 points in that game, while Pfriem added 12 and senior Carlos Garcia chipped in 10. Hayes, saddled with foul trouble, only scored four points before eventually fouling out.
Elder fell behind Springfield, 14-2, to open the game. But the Panthers battled back from the double-digit deficit to eventually take a 39-38 lead early in the fourth quarter after Harp connected on back-to-back three-pointers. But Springfield responded to go in front and ultimately emerge with the victory. Springfield senior guard Michael Wallace finished with a team-high 13 points, including two layups in the final 10 seconds and a pair of key steals to help his team stay alive in the postseason.