By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Senior guard Brett Marsh scored 18 of his team-high 19 points in the first half to help Elder jump out to an early nine-point lead and hold off a fourth-quarter rally by Winton Woods to avenge a regular-season loss to the Warriors and post a 56-51 victory Friday night at Fairfield High School in the district semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I Basketball Tournament – earning the Panthers a third consecutive postseason win and a trip to the district final against Springfield on Saturday, March 10 at the University of Dayton Arena.
La Salle was not as fortunate in its district semifinal game Friday, as the Lancers saw their five-game winning streak and season come to an end in a 60-54 loss to Lakota East in a DI district semifinal at Hamilton. Thunderhawks’ senior guard Jarett Cox had game highs of 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead his team in a game that was close throughout. Senior forward Riley Haubner was the lone Lancer in double figures with 20 points, hitting 11-of-15 made free throws, while senior forward Henry Louden added eight points and seven rebounds for La Salle (15-10) – which finished a solid season under first-year coach Pat Goedde.
The Lancers also finished second in the GCL South standings.
League champion Moeller and St. Xavier will attempt to join Greater Catholic League South Division colleague Elder in the district finals tonight. Moeller (21-3), the sectional’s No. 1 seed and owner of a perfect 14-0 record this calendar year, meets Withrow in a district semifinal at 7:30 p.m. at Hamilton. A few hours earlier, St. Xavier (17-7) will look to win its fourth straight and for the second time this season against Oak Hills in a district final at 5 p.m. at Lakota West. The Bombers earned a 55-54 win at Oak Hills in December on a basket by senior Brandon Gilbert in the game’s final seconds.
It has been a solid postseason run so far for Elder (14-11), which ended the regular season with consecutive league losses and a 1-5 record in the GCL South. But, after getting off to a 21-5 lead in the first quarter of a 47-34, opening-round win over Mt. Healthy last week, coach Joe Schoenfeld’s team has reeled off consecutive wins over Mason, 60-58, and now Winton woods – a team that defeated Elder, 49-39, back on December 15 at The Pit. Elder senior guard Zach Harp finished with a team-high 21 points in the first meeting, but was the only Panther to score more than six points in the game.
It took a pass from sophomore guard Willard Cluxton to a driving Jake O’Brien – who then converted a game-winning layup with 1.5 seconds left – for the victory against Mason earlier in the week to keep Elder alive in the postseason, and the Panthers followed that with a sound performance against Winton Woods last night – outrebounding the Warriors, 24-19, and converting 15-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter. Harp was a perfect 6-of-6 on free throws, while senior guard Trevor Estep added 12 points – also going 6-of-6 from the line.
The 19 points is a season high for Marsh, who twice had 16 in a game – against St. Xavier in a 55-53 loss to the Bombers on the road back on January 19, and then again last Tuesday in the win over Mason. In that game, Marsh connected on 5-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, and also grabbed six rebounds. Marsh was also 3-of-4 on three-pointers against Winton Woods, and Elder knocked down 6-of-7 from long range in the first half to build a lead it would never surrender.