Moeller Tops Middletown to Advance to the Regional Finals
March 13, 2014Cincinnati Moeller High School
by Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer
Moeller Tops Middletown to Advance to Regional Finals
Moeller coach Carl Kremer has seen several of his teams advance to the regional tournament with No. 1 rankings. Some kept going, some did not.
The 2014 Crusaders will keep going. Grant Benzinger scored 24 points and Moeller held on to beat Middletown 53-50 on Wednesday night, in the Division I boys' basketball regional semifinals at Xavier's Cintas Center.
Moeller (24-1), ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press state media poll, will play No. 5 Trotwood-Madison (24-2) in the regional finals Friday at 7 p.m. at Cintas Center.
Trotwood beat Huber Heights Wayne 60-58 in overtime in Wednesday's first semifinal at XU.
Kremer's Moeller teams have won three state titles, most recently in 2007. This year, the program is back in the regional finals for the first time since 2011. "With these kids, what we've done in the past is irrelevant," Kremer said. "This is this team's one time to try to win it. "They're doing it with the heavy burden of No. 1 on their back, and that's even tougher."
Moeller senior forward Jack Anton had 11 points and 14 rebounds to back Benzinger, who also had five rebounds.
Middletown (19-7) was led by Purdue signee Vince Edwards with 19 points. The 6-foot-8 Edwards also had 15 rebounds. Moeller used several defenses in an attempt to contain Edwards and Co. "We played man and we played three different zones," Kremer said. "We showed zone, went man. "They're great when they're in rhythm, and we tried to get them out of rhythm."
That is what happened in the third quarter, when Moeller began pushing the ball more offensively and working more inside. Benzinger, a 6-foot-2 senior guard and Wright State signee, scored 10 points in the third period as Moeller broke open a tight game.
Moeller finished the third period on an 11-0 run, which gave the Crusaders a 36-26 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Moeller run came immediately after a technical foul on Middletown coach Mark Baker. Middletown led 26-25 when Baker received his technical with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
"That was the first time I've ever seen a technical on a coach that was talking to his player," a composed Baker said afterward. "I've never been one to talk about calls or plays or anything like that. "I'm just so proud of my guys." Baker also took the blame.
"I take responsibility for it," he said. "I thought that was a huge turning point in the game." Moeller built its lead to 44-30 about midway through the fourth quarter, then held fast as Middletown made a late charge. Middletown cut the Crusaders' lead to three points (50-47) with 1:04 left, but could not get closer than the final margin.
Regarding Trotwood-Madison, Kremer said: "We'll have to play our best game of the year. "They certainly have a quickness advantage at every spot."
Moeller (24-1) – Anton 3 5 11, Gigax 1 1 3, Fowler 2 2 6, Hawkins 1 6 8, Benzinger 6 8 24, Able 0 1 1. Totals: 13 23 53.
Middletown (19-7) – Edwards 7 3 19, Thomas 1 0 3, Sorrell 1 2 4, Johnson 3 0 7, Jackson 2 5 10, Anderson 1 0 2, Shouse 1 0 3, Wright 1 0 2. Totals: 17 10 50. Halftime: Middletown 21-19. 3-pointers: Moe 4 (Benzinger 4), Midd 6 (Edwards 2, Thomas, Johnson, Jackson, Shouse).