CINCINNATI — The Lakota East High boys basketball team’s season came to an end in a 47-33 loss to top-ranked Moeller in the Division I regional semifinals at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
Moeller coach Carl Kremer summed it up succinctly.
“Tournament basketball,” he said. “When you have a 32-minute season — that is hard.”
The Thunderhawks (20-6) hung close in a low-scoring first quarter that was short on points but long on action, as both teams traded trips down the floor. The Crusaders (26-0) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead.
Nate Johnson hit a jumper to get East on the board at the 3:46 mark. At the 1:56 mark and with his feet never touching the floor, Johnson grabbed a rebound and put the ball in adding another basket.
Johnson hit a free throw later in the period bringing his point total to five.
East scored seven in the first quarter, adding another basket in the second quarter, but went into the halftime break down 17-9.
The Thunderhawks’ inability to hit shots was a theme that would play out for the rest of the game, as they fired 29 percent from the field — far below their 50 percent average.
“When our guys actually get by somebody, now you’re trying to finish at the rim over 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7 guys that are athletic,” Lakota East coach Clint Adkins said. “Even on the shots that we got, a lot of the times we are getting our 3s at 21 foot instead of 19 foot and you’re shooting over guys with length.”
Furthering the Thunderhawks’ plight was Greater Miami Conference leading scorer Bash Wieland, having his only off night of the season going 3-12 from the field and 0-4 from beyond the arc.
“I feel like we came in there and executed what we were trying to do, but at the end on offense we didn’t make shots.” Wieland said. “I had five open shots in the first half I feel like and they just didn’t go in. That’s just how it is sometimes.
“They were jamming me, being physical with me and it’s what I expected,” Wieland added. “In the end, I just didn’t make shots. I think I was 3 for 12 from the field, and that’s not like me. But that’s just how it was.”
“Bash Wieland. Gosh I love that player. He is a really really good high school basketball player,” Kremer said. “And he’s going to be great at Bellarmine. I love the kid. He’s poised and he was a big target for us.”
In the second half, East nibbled at the Crusader lead and pulled to within five with 6:23 left in the third quarter. But for every challenge East had to close the gap the Crusaders had an answer.
Moeller wouldn’t allow the Thunderhawks to get any closer.
The Moeller defensive pressure was the thesis of the game, forcing the Thunderhawks into bad passes and worse situations while holding East on more than one five-second violation.
“We had a couple bad turnovers, both on some in-bounds plays and trying to get the ball in against their pressure,” Adkins said. “But you compare the first time we played them to this time when they had 24 points off turnovers and it definitely wasn’t 24. We just had some timely turnovers that were kinda back breakers for us.”
Moeller had taken down Lakota East 61-53 back on Jan. 20 in the King Classic at Middletown.
“We had our opportunities. I think we cut it to five at one point in the third quarter and had a timely turnover,” Adkins said. “I think we went 3-17 from 3-point range and going into the game we said if we hit somewhere between seven and nine 3s, I thought we had a chance to win this game. We got good looks from guys, the ball just didn’t go in.”
Leading the way for the Thunderhawks was Wieland with 11 points and five rebounds. Nate Johnson added nine points, and Grant Spicer grabbed seven rebounds.
Alex Williams paced the Crusaders with 13 points. Moeller advances to play Centerville, a 67-63 winner over Springfield.
Lakota East 7-2-12-12—33
Moeller (26-0) — Michael Shipp 4 0 9, Alec Pfriem 2 3 7, Max Land 2 2 6, Logan Duncomb 2 0 4, Miles McBride 3 1 8, Alex Williams 4 4 13. Totals 17 10 47
Lakota East (20-6) — Grant Spicer 0 2 2, Kaden Fuhrmann 1 0 3, Bash Wieland 3 5 11, Will Johnston 2 2 8, Nate Johnson 3 3 9. Totals 9 12 33
Three-point FGs: M (3) — Shipp 1, McBride 1, Williams 1; LE (3) — Johnston 2, Fuhrmann 1