Cincinnati, Ohio — After the highly anticipated matchup between St. Xavier and Moeller concluded with an overtime win from the Crusaders, Centerville was set to square off against Elder. The Panthers were a dominant team shooting the ball this year as they showed early in the season when they rained down 16 threes in their 77-41 win over Beavercreek.
Centerville knew they would be in for a battle against Elder and they needed to be on the top of their game to be able to get to the Regional Final game against Moeller. The Centerville and Moeller rivalry has been brewing as the Crusaders have eliminated Centerville from the postseason in each of the last two seasons.
With Moeller showing that they’re beatable with losses to Elder and St. Xavier throughout the regular season, the Elks know this might just be the season that they can take down the powerhouse of the south. But in order to get to that highly anticipated rematch, Centerville would need to bring down a hot Elder team.
Rich Rolf got the scoring started with a three and then Centerville’s pressure forced Elder to throw the ball out-of-bounds. Rolf would hit another three later in the quarter and Tom House would gives the Elks a 9-8 lead with his quick release three. A couple of scores with under a minute left from Elder gave them the 13-9 advantage after one.
Tom House took a fall to begin the second quarter that would sideline him for part of the remainder of the half. After that injury to House, the Elks went on a cold streak. Gabe Cupps finally connected on a three but it was already after Elder took a double digit lead. Centerville would go into halftime trailing 22-14.
The Elks knew going into the second half that something had to change if they were going to pullout this game. Gabe Cupps stepped up defensively from the start of the third. Despite being in obvious pain, Tom House hit a big corner three. The Elks then went on a run. And-one’s from Cupps and Ryan Keifer and then a steal and score from Gabe Cupps brought Centerville down by just two as they trailed 34-32 heading into the fourth quarter.
Centerville took their first lead since the first quarter after Rich Rolf pulled up from three. They extended their lead to 43-39 after Quinn Hafner banked in his second three of the night. Then Cupps drew a charge on the other end as the Elks continued their defensive dominance in the second half. Elder got the ball down 47-40 late in the game and they were unsuccessful from deep again. Cupps sealed the win as he pulled down a defensive rebound and knocked down the free throws to seal Centerville’s 52-43 win over Elder.
A player that greatly affected the outcome on Wednesday night but might go unnoticed was Ryan Keifer. The junior guard came up huge with a couple of late layups including an and-one and a huge steal late in the game. Keifer showed his basketball I.Q. by holding the ball and draining the clock instead of going up for a contested layup.
Gabe Cupps finished with a team high 16 points as he led the charge in Centerville’s comeback win. Cupps’ defense effort was just as impressive and important that any bucket he scored. Rich Rolf had 13 points for the Elks and Tom House had 9 points off of a trio of threes. Centerville will now get a shot at revenge as they will face Moeller at Princeton at 7:30 pm on Saturday for the third straight season with a trip to the State Semifinal on the line.