CINCINNATI – It appeared the momentum of Wednesday’s regional semifinal had changed midway through the fourth quarter.
Keegan McDowell hit a huge three for Moeller with 4:55 remaining to give the Crusaders a 35-33 lead. The raucous Moeller student section was loud.
Dylan Beaugard silenced them just seconds later.
Beaugard went down and buried a three of his own to give Wilmington a 36-35 lead with 4:35 remaining.
Wilmington never trailed again as the Hurricane defeated the Crusaders 40-37 at Cintas Center at Xavier University.
“We just did what we had to do to get the win,” Beaugard said. “On to the next one. We aren’t done here. Centerville is going to be a tough game. Just need to focus on the next one.”
Another key play came after two Jarron Cumberland free throws. Jeffrey Mansfield was called for a block, which was his fifth foul. Mansfield had given the Hurricane a spark, and now he would miss the final minute.
However, Trey McBride missed a shot after the inbounds, and Wilmington got it up the floor quickly to Chris Wolary for a huge layup. WHS lead 40-35 with less than a minute left.
…NO SURPRISE FOR KREMER: Moeller’s Carl Kremer knew exactly how the script was written for his team’s game against Wilmington. The only question was the ending of the script.
“The game went exactly the way we thought it would go,” Kremer said. “Mike (Noszka) is such a great coach. Their kids are really keyed into what they need to do.”
Moeller defeated Wilmington in two straight meetings before Wednesday’s game. The Hurricane avenged a district title game loss from a year ago.
“We knew we would have to scratch to get into the 30s and it would be hard to score,” Kremer said. “We also knew (Noszka) learned over the years he’s not going to open the court up for us.
“We knew it would come down to the last two or three minutes of the game. It certainly was a game that could go either way. I have total respect for their program.”
…TIME UNKNOWN: The opponent and the location are known, but the time of the Division I regional championship Saturday is still unknown.
Wilmington will play Centerville Saturday at Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University. The game time is still to be announced. An announcement is expected to be made Thursday.
…NEARLY A CENTURY: Wilmington is one of the final eight Division I boys basketball teams left standing, and that hasn’t happened in quite a while.
In fact, Wilmington hasn’t advanced this far in the tournament since the 1926-27 basketball season. WHS advanced to the final eight that season as well.
The last Clinton County team to make the state final four was Jefferson High School in 1929-30. Jefferson played basketball until the 1958-59 season, when they were consolidated into the Blanchester Local School District.
…MOVING UP: With 22 points Wednesday night, Jarron Cumberland is now tied for 16th place on the OHSAA’s all-time scoring list.
Cumberland is tied with Matt Witt of Tipp City Bethel, who scored 2,366 points during his career from 1998-2002.
Cumberland started the game in 18th but passed Greg Simpson early in the game for 17th place.
…WHS GRADS FACEOFF: A pair of Wilmington High School graduates were on opposite sides of the court Wednesday in the first Div. I Cincinnati Regional semifinal game at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
Zach Hollingsworth, a 2004 WHS grad, is an assistant coach at Centerville High School.
Clinton Adkins, a 1998 WHS grad, is the head coach at Lakota East High School.
Hollingsworth’s Elks got the better of Adkins’ Thunderhawks, 37-36.
—ELKS UP NEXT: Wilmington will take on Centerville Saturday for the regional championship. Centerville defeated Lakota East 37-36 in the first game of the evening.
After a sluggish start for the Elks, they shot the ball well in the second half. Centerville made just 4 of 14 in the first half (28.6 percent). In the second half, they made 8 of 16 (50 percent).
The two teams exchanged the lead back-and-forth in the game’s final minutes. Daniel Buchenroth gave the Elks (17-8) the lead for good with a layup with 2:01 remaining.
Lakota East had a final shot to win. Andrew Emrick drove the left baseline. He put up a 12-footer, but it missed. Centerville grabbed the rebound and time expired.
Kevin Meiners led the Elks with 12 points.
—STORMIN NORMIN: Former Wilmington High School boys basketball coach Norm Persin will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame 5:30 p.m. April 23 at the Columbus Marriott on Cassady Avenue.
—ALL-STAR GAME: Cumberland will make the annual top players all-star game circuit following his high school season.
The Ohio versus Kentucky All-Star game is April 9 at Thomas More College in Kentucky.
Matt covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @mattsports.