Wildcats brace for rematch with Crusaders in boys D-I regional semi

Springfield gets every team’s best effort. That’s a tribute to what Isaiah Carson and his staff have done to elevate the Wildcats’ boys basketball program since Carson suceeded Darnell Hoskins as head coach in 2010.

It’s also why the Wildcats know what to expect against mighty Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on Wednesday night.

“It’s just another rivalry for us,” shrugged junior RaHeim Moss.

Only the stakes are much higher in this rematch. Springfield (21-4) is paired against Moeller (23-3) in a Division I regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Xavier University’s Cintas Center in Cincinnati. The second game features Greater Western Ohio Conference National East rival Wayne (24-1) against Cincinnati Princeton (23-3) at 8 p.m.

The winners return to the Cintas at 7:30 p.m. Friday to determine the regional title and a spot in next week’s season-ending state final four at Columbus.

Catholic Central played Marion Local in a D-IV regional semi at Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering on Tuesday. The D-III regional semis are also Wednesday at Trent and D-II on Thursday.

Moeller, out of the Greater Catholic League South Division, hasn’t lost to an Ohio team and humbled host Springfield 56-39 on Feb. 3. That was the second of two losses that weekend for Springfield, which also lost at Centerville the previous night. Springfield’s other losses were at Wayne and Trotwood-Madison. Wayne’s only loss was at Springfield.

Moeller lost to Massillon Jackson in last season’s D-I state title game and figured to be a longshot to contend again with four new starters. But the Crusaders eliminated Fairmont for their 16th straight win in last Saturday’s district final at UD Arena, 65-50.

Besides a talented lineup, Moeller also features 6-foot-10 center Jaxson Hayes, who had 17 points and seven blocks against Fairmont. Signed with Texas, he had never started a game at any level prior to this season, including freshmen and JV.

“He’s that late bloomer,” Moeller coach and school principal Carl Kremer said. “The expectations on this team in the beginning were greater than the reality.”

Springfield defeated GCL South member Elder 51-45 with a late surge for its district title. This also is a rematch of a 2016 D-I regional semi that Moeller won, 64-58.

All GCL South teams are known for rugged defense and deliberate offense. Moeller lost last year’s state title game 39-38.

“We understood what we were into,” Carson said of the Elder win. “It was a tough out.”

• Northeastern high-scoring senior Hayley Suchland and Ise Bolender, a senior at Cedarville, both were named first team All-Ohio girls basketball in their respective divisions on Monday.

Suchland was among the state’s leading scorers (30.9) and was a D-III first-team selection. The D-III co-player of the year was Benjamin Logan senior Nikki Current.

Bolender (20.2 points) was a D-IV first-team pick. Chosen honorable mention were Greeneview’s Frankie Fife (D-III) and Kasey Schipfer of Mechanicsburg (D-IV).

The teams were chosen by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association and based on coaches’ nominations. The Divisions I and II All-Ohio girls teams were scheduled to be announced on Tuesday and the Ohio Ms. Basketball on Wednesday.

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