CINCINNATI — Wayne gave Moeller everything it could handle but ran out of steam late to fall to the Crusaders 65-53.
Moeller head coach and Miami East grad Carl Kremer said, “We played a really good team tonight. I thought for a long, long time the teams were destined to meet. We knew we had a height advantage, a size advantage. The first half their competitiveness showed through. That is a gutty team with kids that are competitors. I was so worried about it being close late because they have guys that can make plays late. So, we feel very fortunate.”
Wayne started quickly, jumping out to a 3-0 lead on a Rashad McKee three-pointer.
Moeller then went on a 15-6 run to lead 15-9 after the first quarter, four of those came when Moeller senior guard Carlos Garcia banked a three-pointer at the buzzer while getting fouled. Garcia finished the 4 point play at the line with zeros on the clock.
Moeller began to pull away in the second quarter. The Crusaders were able to use their size advantage to score 12 first half points in the paint and to block three of Wayne’s shots in the paint. Wayne fell behind by as much as 8 points but rallied to end the first half trailing 27-26. The Warriors were able to overcome their size disadvantage by hitting 6 of 10 three-pointers in the first half
Moeller came out in the second half and continued to take the ball to the rim. It felt like it could wear Wayne down inside and defend the paint going forward. The Crusaders outscored Wayne 17-7 in the third to build a 43-34 lead.
Wayne would not go away. Darius Quisenberry and Deshon Parker were able to run the floor and beat the taller Moeller defenders to the rim consistently. The Warriors closed the score to 50-44 with 4 minutes left and had a chance to close the gap to 3 but Wayne missed two consecutive 3 pointers and L’Christian “Blue” Smith fouled out. Without Blue in the middle, Wayne was unable to draw any closer.
“You know Moeller is a great team,” Wayne Coach Nathan Martindale said. “I told their coaches and players to go win it and represent Southwest Ohio, and I mean that. I think they played a really good game. I thought our kids fought like crazy. We were relentless. We played hard. We’ve been aggressive all year. To me, it was one of those things where we’ll go out fighting. In the second half from the 3 point line, we really didn’t have the legs. I’m proud of them I love those guys to death.”
WAY o9 27 34 53 – 53
MOE 15 26 43 65 – 65
Wayne: Deshon Parker 15, Darius Quisenberry 21, L’Christian Smith 6, Rashad McKee 11. Totals: 17-13-53.
Moeller: Isaiah Payton 4, Carlos Garcia 9, Jaxson Hayes 20, Jeremiah Davenport 21, Alec Pfriem 11. Totals: 24-14-65.
Three-point goals: Wayne 6 (Parker 2, McKee 2, Quisenberry 2); Moeller 3 (Payton, Garcia, Davenport).
Records: Wayne 25-2, Moeller 25-3.
Reach Robert Williamson II at: RobertWilliamsonII@hotmail.com