By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commssioner
New calendar year, same result for the Moeller basketball team. After posting a perfect 29-0 record in 2018, the defending Division I state champion Crusaders tipped off the New Year with another double-digit victory Saturday night at the school’s Brisben Family Education Center in Kenwood as three players scored in double figures in a non-conference victory over Centerville. La Salle extended a modest streak of its own, defeating neighborhood rival Colerain on the road thanks to another big night from junior forward Derek Eddings, while Elder and St. Xavier both suffered road losses to wrap up their weekends.
Here is a look at Saturday’s Greater Catholic League South Division games:
Moeller 54, Centerville 33 – Sophomore forward Alex Williams came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting as Moeller outscored Centerville (4-5) in every quarter. Williams was joined in double figures by senior Alec Pfriem, who finished with 12 points, five assists and four rebounds. Senior Miles McBride, who entered the game leading the GCL South in scoring at 15.7 points a game, finished with nine points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists as Moeller shot better than 50 percent for the ninth time this season, at 54.8 (23-of-42).
The Crusaders, who are winning by an average of 31.2 points, also won the rebounding edge, 29-16. No team has come closer than 16 points against Moeller, that coming in the final game of 2018 – a 64-46 win over Lakewood from St. Petersburg, Fla. in the championship game of the Suncoast Holiday Classic in Sarasota. Moeller (10-0) will look to extend two winning streaks in its next game against La Salle in the GCL South opener for the Crusaders at home Friday. Besides the 30-game overall streak, Moeller also has won 13 consecutive league games dating back to February 5, 2016 and a 48-43 loss at Elder.
Moeller has won or shared five straight GCL South crowns.
La Salle 63, Colerain 55 – One night after sinking a game-winning, three-point shot in the final minute to help the Lancers win their GCL South opener, 39-37, at St. Xavier, Eddings matched his season high in scoring to help La Salle win its third straight game. Eddings finished with 17 points for the second straight night, this time on 5-of-8 shooting while making all six free throws, and grabbed six rebounds for La Salle (6-4) – which jumped out to a 34-18 halftime lead. Eddings’ previous high was 14 earlier this season against Withrow.
Senior Nathan Vogelpohl and junior Jaylen Lemons also scored in double figures for La Salle with 15 and 13 points, respectively, to offset a big scoring night by senior guard Rodney Wiley of Colerain (2-5) – who scored a game-high 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three-point range, and 7-of-8 in free throws to compliment five rebounds. La Salle junior center Michael Wergers, who did not score but grabbed 12 rebounds against St. Xavier, added five points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the game.
La Salle hosts GCL Co-Ed member Roger Bacon at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Northwest 53, Elder 47 – Junior guard Steven Grau scored a game-high 17 points to lead a balanced attack for Northwest, with four or more players posting eight or more points to help the Knights record the home victory. Grau connected on 7-of-9 shots, including 3-of 5 three-pointers, to help Northwest outscore the Panthers, 12-8 and 16-11, respectively, in the second and third quarters. Evan Mahaffey and Desani Hill each added nine points, while Keyshawn Bourrage chipped in eight for Northwest (3-8) – the four-time defending Southwest Ohio Conference champion.
Juniors Aidan Byrne and Matthew Luebbe each scored 10 points to lead Elder (6-6), which connected on just 4-of-15 three-pointers and was outrebounded, 31-12. Junior Joe Royer added nine for Elder, while junior Bryson Mer came off the bench to score seven. Lueebe led the team with five rebounds. Elder, which hosts St. Xavier in its GCL South opener at 7:30 p.m. Friday, has lost its last three games by a combined 10 points – falling to Roger Bacon, 58-57, in overtime on December 22, then Lakota West, 51-48, on a three at the buzzer on December 28 before last night’s four-point setback.
Purcell Marian 71, St. Xavier 58 – Junior Hank Thomas scored 21 of his team-high 24 points in the first three quarters and helped St. Xavier trail by four points, 48-44, before Purcell Marian extended its lead in the final eight minutes on the way to its seventh consecutive victory after the talented GCL Co-Ed member opened the season with back-to-back losses. The loss was the third straight for St. Xavier (5-6), which has now lost five of its last six games after going 4-1 to begin the season. Purcell Marian (7-2) is now 2-1 against the GCL South, losing to La Salle in the season opener, 53-50, and then winning against Elder, 63-57.
The 24 points were a season high for Thomas, who ranks third in the GCL South in rebounding at 6.8 per game entering Saturday. Senior guard Nathan Stockman, the GCL South leading scorer at 15.6 points a game, scored 22 against Purcell Marian for the Bombers. St. Xavier will attempt to get back on the winning track and earn its first league win when it meets Elder at The Pit at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The teams split two meetings last season, with St. Xavier winning, 55-53, in overtime at home and then losing at Elder, 67-46, in early February.