Moeller looks for 2nd-half warmth
January 6, 2013Cincinnati Moeller High School
By Scott Springer
After the organizers of a prep holiday tournament in Naples, Fla., went bankrupt, the Moeller boys basketball team made lemonade out of their lemon in the land of oranges.
The Crusaders kept their December roundball tradition alive by continuing on to their destination with their own fund-raising. They finished 2012 by playing a combination of local teams and others who had also traveled south.
In the end, coach Carl Kremer’s blue and gold participated in four games, returning home Jan. 2.
The tournament was originally going to include top-notch programs like the Crusaders in one portion, with a group of non-sanctioned academies and prep schools in another. When the arrangement fell apart, Moeller carried on by playing a couple of local schools along with Wilbraham and Monson Academy of Massachusetts and a Canadian team.
Kremer’s crew defeated Golden Gate High School and Community School from the Sunshine State during the five-day span. Their lone loss Dec. 27-31 was to the academy near Boston, 47-42.
“They had a number of Division I players,” Kremer said of Wilbraham and Monson. “We lost in a close game.”
Overall, the Crusaders made the best of the situation and came home ready to continue their rugged Greater Catholic League and non-conference schedule.
“I wasn’t sure we were ready for this,” Kremer said. “We’re young.”
The Canadian team was Waterloo, out of Ontario. Kremer’s staff had tried to no avail to find out information about them, so he inquired personally on game day in a conversation with their coach.
“He said, ‘We’re not a school,’” Kremer explained. “They were an all-star team from southern Ontario organized for the tournament to expose their basketball players to America.”
Moeller mounted a second-half surge in the game to win 53-35 with junior Grant Benzinger scoring 22 points.
“We feel with Josh Davenport on one wing and Grant on the other, we make it difficult for teams to guard us,” Kremer said.
Benzinger and Davenport are typically in double digits for the Crusaders, with 6-foot-8 sophomore Nate Fowler sometimes posting double-doubles in points and rebounds.
His fundamentals and basketball IQ is huge,” Kremer said. “He just turned 16 on our Florida trip.”
In addition to Fowler in the middle, Moeller has 6-foot-6 Patrick Wrencher returning soon from injury and 6-foot-4, 228-pound Corey Muchmore. The 6-foot-3 Davenport and 6-foot-2 Benzinger add to the Crusader’s length, along with 6-foot-7 Jack Anton and 6-foot-6 Adam Gigax off the bench.
Distributing the ball is junior guard Tre’ Hawkins who leads the GCL in assists. Eventually, three-year player Keith Watkins will return from his football ailments adding to the Moeller arsenal.
“Keith can start practice soon, but that’s just practice,” Kremer said. “We want him ready for the tournament. We’ll try to work him in one step at a time.”
Ahead on Moeller’s aggressive winter menu are St. Xavier Jan. 11 and a home date with Aiken Jan. 12.
“We’ve got some size, we’ve got some athleticism and we’ve got some shooters,” Kremer said. “We’re pretty balanced. Our football guys we didn’t get ‘til really late. It just meshes together we hope by March.”
For the long term future, Moeller plans an annual holiday trip and was scheduled to return to Arizona next December (they played there December 2010). However, that endeavor could be on hold financially.
“The Naples tournament was paying for all of our travel, all of our rooms and all of our food,” Kremer said. “The tournament went bankrupt and we had to cover all of that. Right now, we don’t know financially if we can travel or not. We’ll have to reassess that this spring.”