Pace of the game will be one of the key factors Wednesday night when Wilmington faces Moeller in a Div. I Cincinnati Regional semifinal game at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
The Hurricane (25-1) will meet the Crusaders (23-3) at 8 p.m. The other semifinal game is a 6:15 p.m. tip and pits Lakota East against Centerville.
“We want to be able to control pace and play at any pace, that’s what people don’t understand,” WHS head coach Michael Noszka said. “You are not going to turn Moeller over. You are not going to have a lot of possessions. Moeller wants to play in the 30s and 40s. That what makes this all really interesting.
“There are teams you have to be able to run with and there are teams you have to be able to grind with. We want to run first; we take pride in that. At the same time, if we have to grind it out with you, we feel we can do that. I don’t think there are a lot of teams that are that versatile.”
The winners of Wednesday’s regional semifinal games will advance to Saturday night’s regional championship game. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Cintas Center. The winner then advances to the Div. I Final Four.
Moeller won the last meeting between the two schools 40-31 on Jan. 23. Wilmington was held to 29 shots, nearly half its season average of 54 shots a game.
That total was predicated as much on the pace of the game as anything. Consider, the teams combined for 10 turnovers and 13 personal fouls, hardly statistics of a run-and-gun shootout.
Also, Jarron Cumberland was just 4-for-10 from the floor, but had a game-high 14 points. Cameron Stewart had eight points for WHS.
“It was a physical game,” Stewart said following Monday’s practice. “The GCL (Greater Catholic League) teams play physical, but we’re physical right back at them.”
Stewart said the way to reverse the outcome is simple.
“We just need to finish,” the WHS senior said. “We had control of the game and we just didn’t finish. We know what they do and they know what we do.”
Wilmington led 16-11 at the end of the first quarter but managed just 15 points in the final three quarters.
The Hurricane also surrendered 12 offensive rebounds to the Crusaders, who converted enough opportunities to win despite shooting a lower percentage (33 percent to 34.5 percent) than WHS.
“When we lost (to Moeller), it was a wakeup call,” said Alex Miller, a WHS senior. “It was one of those moments after the game where deep down you were hoping you would get to play Moeller again. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. I’m glad we get another opportunity.”
Moeller also defeated Wilmington 46-43 in a district championship game last season at UD Arena.
Trey McBride has been a particular thorn in the side of the Hurricane. He netted 10 points in the regular season game and had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the tourney win last season.
Wilmington last defeated Moeller 61-46 on Dec. 13, 2014 at Fred Summers Court. WHS broke the game open with a 20-6 second quarter. That period aside, Moeller has outpointed Wilmington 126 to 115 in 11 of the last 12 quarters when the two teams face each other.
“They’re tough,” Miller said. “Nothing’s easy against them. You’re not going to get anything handed to you.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.