Centerville runs away from Elder in the third quarter of Saturday’s nightcap.
DAYTON — The Hurricanes’ shooting from the field on Saturday was more similar to Blizzard temperature.
Wilmington was colder than February from the field against Moeller in a district final at U.D. Arena. The Hurricanes’ shot 13-of-48 (27 percent), including 4-of-23 from three-point range, in a 46-43 loss to the Crusaders.
“That’s got to be our worst (shooting night) of the year,” Wilmington head coach Mike Noszka said after the game. “And certainly you have to give credit to Moeller for the way they defended us. We took some bad shots, but we knew other guys had to step up and make some plays and make some shots tonight. The shots didn’t fall at the clip we needed them too.”
The Crusaders advance Springfield in a regional semifinal next Wednesday at Xavier’s Cintas Center. Springfield beat Cincinnati La Salle 54-41 in a district final earlier on Saturday.
Moeller lost to Wilmington by 16 points in December in a nonconference game. The Crusaders were a work in progress at that point. Moeller lost all five of its starters from last season.
“We made some incredible experienced-player plays that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do earlier in the season,” Moeller head coach Carl Kremer said after the game. “We’ve still got work to do, but I’m pleased with how the kids competed.”
Jarron Cumberland scored on a layup with 27 seconds left to cut Moeller’s lead to 45-43. The Crusaders drained the clock down to six seconds on their next possession before Wilmington fouled Moeller’s Nate Georgeton. Georgeton made his first free throw but missed his second, and Cumberland grabbed the rebound.
Cumberland quickly drove down the court to the top of the key and threw a pass to Jaevin Cumblerland on the left wing. Cumberland drove to the corner and shot at the buzzer, but it was partially blocked.
“I was thinking about taking the last shot, but as Coach Noszka says, you’ve got to trust your teammate,” Cumberland said. “I had trust in him to hit to. They (Moeller) just got hand on it.”
Wilmington didn’t make a basket in the second quarter and struggled shooting throughout the first half. Moeller led 12-11 at the end of the first and extended its lead to five points at halftime with an 8-2 advantage in the second. The Hurricanes shot 4-of-19 (21 percent) from the field in the first half, while Moeller shot 8-of-20 (40 percent).
Moeller pushed its lead to nine points early in the third, but the Hurricanes battled back. Wilmington finished third on a 13-4 run to tie the game at 27-27 at the end of the quarter.
It’s Wilmington’s second consecutive close loss in the districts. Middletown beat the Hurricanes on a bank shot three-pointer in a district final last year.
“As the head coach and as someone that’s the head of the program here at Wilmington, I’ve got a feeling like I’m letting people down,” Noszka said. “It’s very, very difficult. It took us an entire year to get back here after last year. This is kind of part of athletics. It’s hard to win a state championship, and I don’t think people understand that. There’s 200 teams…
“We feel we’re better than this. We feel we can beat anybody and can compete with anybody in the state. We gave our best, but we didn’t play our best.”
Jarron Cumberland led Wilmington with 23 points, while Jaevin Cumberland scored 10. Both Cumberlands were voted to the AP’s first team Div. I All-District. Jaevin Cumberland, who was also voted the Div. I player of the year, is a senior. The Oakland University recruit averaged 22 points per game this year.
Wilmington will also lose key players in Garrett Scott and Harley McPherson. Scott scored seven points on Saturday, and McPherson had seven rebounds.
Trey McBride led Moeller with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Georgeton scored 11 points.
Moeller will try to replicate beating an opponent it previously lost to on Wednesday. Springfield beat the Crusaders 74-72 in double overtime on Jan. 3.
“They’re really athletic, and they have a couple of matchup nightmares,” Kremer said. “… Their talent level is really high.”
Centerville 67 Elder 62
Centerville ran away from Elder in the third quarter and then fought off a comeback attempt in the fourth in Saturday’s nightcap district final. The Elks beat Elder 67-62 to earn their first district championship since 2009.
Centerville opened the game up with a 24-11 scoring advantage in the third quarter. Elder made a comeback attempt in the fourth and knocked down several big shots. But the Panthers couldn’t stop Centerville’s scoring enough to complete a comeback. Elder came no closer than the final margin of five points after a basket with four seconds left in the game. The Panthers outscored Centerville 30-12 in the fourth.
“They’re a great team,” Centerville head coach Brook Cupps said. “They’re tough kids. They’re well-coached and well-prepared. So we knew they were going to come back and weren’t just going to cash it in and quit playing. I felt like a lot of the shots they were making were really contested and tough shots. We kept our composure and just kind of grinded it out in the fourth quarter.”
Centerville led 25-21 at halftime. Mitch Balser got the Elks going early by scoring their first 11 points of the game. Balser led Centerville with 19 points and six rebounds.
“In games like this, you always need someone to kind of step up and break the ice,” Cupps said. “Mitch was definitely locked in tonight.”
Joey Weingartner added 17 points for Centerville, and Kyle Dodson scored 13. Frankie Hofmeyer, who made three three-pointers in the fourth to help bring Elder back, led the Panthers with 24 points.
Centerville shot 22-of-38 (57.9 percent) from the field, while Elder shot 21-of-52 (40 percent).
The Elks (23-3) advance to play Wayne in a regional semifinal next Wednesday at Cintas Center. Elder finished the season with a 22-3 record.
Wayne split with the Elks in GWOC Central play in regular season. The Warriors won by 21 points at home in January but lost by four points in overtime at Centerville on Feb. 20.