Down by four points at the half, unbeaten Moeller used a rousing second half comeback to stay undefeated and in the Division I title hunt on Saturday.
Columbus – Pickerington Central (26-3) gave Moeller their best shot for the first 16 minutes of Friday evening’s Division I semi-final game at Value City Arena.
The Tigers shot 44% from three-point range, defended vigorously, hit the boards, and simply outplayed unbeaten and #1-ranked Moeller.
But the Crusaders, coach by Carl Kremer, seeking their fourth state title since 1999, turned on the jets in the second 16 minutes to outscore Pickerington 35-21, and win 57-47…to claim their place in Saturday’s Division I title game against the winner later Friday night of Lakewood St. Ed and Massillon Jackson High School.
Moeller used balanced scoring and rebounded from 37% shooting in the first half to shoot 49% for the game to close out Pickerington’s season with a 26-3 mark.
For Moeller, Keegan McDowell and Isaiah Payton each scored 10 points – Miles McBride finished with 13 points – and Jeremiah Davenport completed play with a team-high 17 points.
Pickerington finished by shooting 40% from the field, led by Jeremiah Francis and his 16 points – while teammates Adrian Nelson and Sterling Manley finished with 11 and 12 points, respectively.
The game was tied twice, both in the second half, and the lead changed hands three times. Pickerington led for the entire first half.
Rebounds were equal, turnovers were nearly equal, and both teams had 17 points off offensive rebounds. That’s how close the game was.
Pickerington was seeking its second state championship in basketball, their first coming in 2012.