By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
For the second straight year, Elder’s run in the basketball postseason came to an end to Springfield in the district final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament late Saturday at the University of Dayton Arena. The Panthers, who entered the game on a four-game winning streak and having won eight of their last nine games, fell behind early and were never able to recover in a 55-35 loss in the Dayton District 4 championship game.
Greater Catholic League South Division colleague Moeller (25-0) opened the day by remaining unbeaten to continue its state championship defense with a 57-15 victory against Winton Woods in the Dayton 1 final to earn a trip to the regional semifinals and a matchup against Lakota East (20-5) at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
Moeller, which has now won six straight district titles and 45 consecutive games overall dating back to December 2017, defeated East, 61-53, back on January 20 as part of the inaugural Midwest King Classic at Middletown High School. East won its seventh straight game Saturday by knocking off Kettering Fairmont, 50-36, in the Dayton 3 final. Centerville (21-5), which has now won 17 consecutive games after a 49-43 win against Mason in the Dayton 2 final, will face Springfield (17-10) in the other regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday at XU.
The district final could not have started worse for Elder (14-11), which failed to score in the first quarter and trailed by 17 points, 29-12, at halftime. Junior Bryson Merz led the Panthers with 12 points, the only Elder player to score more than five points. Elder did cut the deficit to 12 after three quarters, but Springfield was able to pull away in the final quarter and earn a third matchup with Greater Western Ohio Conference member Centerville in the regional semis. Centerville and Springfield, which finished tied in the league’s Cardinal Division with identical 10-2 records, split their two regular-season meetings.