Walnut Hills guard MaCio Teague  scores in the Boys Sectional Playoff game at Fairfield High School, March 6, 2015. Teague led all scorers with 20 points but Moeller defeated Walnut Hills 48-40.
Moeller needed a half to find its swagger against Walnut Hills in Friday’s Division I Fairfield sectional final.
The Crusaders found it halftime.
Moeller came back from a 20-13 halftime deficit and took command with a 12-0 fourth-quarter run to pull out a 48-40 win over the Eagles.
Junior guard Nate Georgeton led Moeller with 16 points, 13 in the second half and seven of those on 10 free throws to lead the Crusaders to a district-championship game against Wilmington, the tournament’s No. 2 seed and the Enquirer’s Division I coaches’ poll champion. They are scheduled to meet next Saturday at University of Dayton Arena
Senior guard MaCio Teague scored 20 points for Walnut Hills (19-6), the Enquirer’s seventh-ranked team, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Moeller’s blistering 62.5 percent shooting from the field (10-of-16) in the second half, when the Crusaders started attacking the basket.”We have a lot of enthusiasm,” the 5-foot-9 Georgeton said about the comeback win. “We’re all really happy with the win. We’ll celebrate tonight – nothing too crazy – then start getting ready for Wilmington.”
“They’re Moeller,” Walnut Hills coach Ricardo Hill said. “One of their biggest assets is they’re always prepared. I thought we came out really focused and with good intensity, but we’re playing a lot of young kids, and we had some breakdowns. (Moeller was) more composed. They made less mistakes than we did.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Hill added. “They’re a better defensive team than an offensive team.”
Moeller (17-8) limited Walnut Hills to a season-low in scoring, but Crusaders coach Carl Kremer thought his players were too hesitant in the first half.
“(Walnut Hills) is pretty athletic, and we were hesitant to make that next pass,” he said. “We had to cut harder and attack the basket better.”
The Crusaders, ranked sixth in the Enquirer, scored the first baskets after halftime on driving layups by 6-3 senior guard Grant Pitman and Georgeton. Moeller kept chipping away at the lead, but couldn’t take it until 6-foot junior guard Trey McBride was fouled on yet another drive with 2:50 left in the game.
The Eagles were called for a technical foul on the play, and after McBride made one of his two free throws to tie the score, 29-29, Georgeton made both of his to give Moeller the lead for good.
The Crusaders went 10-of-14 on free throws in the last 1:02 to pull away.
“Free throws have been an adventure for us all year, but as long as you make them down the stretch, you’ve got a chance to win,” Kremer said.
The sixth-seeded Crusaders, playing so deliberately that they knocked more than a minute off the clock on one possession before even taking a shot, grabbed an early 7-1 lead, but the eighth-seeded Eagles got a 3-pointer from junior guard D.J. Benson with five seconds left in the first quarter to forge a 12-12 tie.
Benson sank another 3-pointer from the left wing with 6:57 left to give Walnut Hills a 12-9 lead, and the Eagles went on to expand that to 20-13 by halftime.
Teague scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds while Walnut Hills was outscoring Moeller, 8-1, in points off of turnovers in the first half.
Moeller (17-8) – Kerley 1 2 4, Georgeton 4 7 16, McDowell 0 2 2, Voss 3 3 9, Wead 1 0 3, McBride 3 2 8, Pitman 1 0 2, Hoffman 2 0 4. Totals: 15 16 48.
Walnut Hills (19-6) – Benson 2 0 6, Perry 0 2 2, Davis 3 0 6, Tregre 2 0 4, Teague 6 5 20, Davidson 1 0 2. Totals: 14 7 40.
Halftime: Walnut Hills, 20-13. 3-pointers: M 2 (Georgeton Wead), W 5 (Teague 3, Benson 2).