Following a blowout loss at Cincinnati Moeller on January 5, the varsity boys basketball team stood at 4-5. With many people doubting them and the players looking for their identity this season, something started to click in their next game and then took off from there. After securing their 18th straight win last night in the Regional Semifinals at The Cintas Center over NL East rival Springfield, the Elks now look ahead to Saturday night and the Regional Finals against the last team to beat them, top ranked and unbeaten Moeller. The winner of Saturday night’s game will punch their ticket to the State Final Four next weekend at The Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University. If the Elks are victorious, it would be their first Final Four appearance in school history.
Having split the season series and shared the NL East title, last night marked the rubber game of the season series. Everyone in attendance knew this would be an intense and exciting game and that is exactly what happened.
In the first quarter, the Wildcats struck first and stretched their lead to six at one point. After getting a bucket and a defensive stop, the Elks received a huge boost when senior Ryan Ballard drained a three from the right wing as the buzzer sounded. That trimmed the Wildcats lead to just one point, 12-11, at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Elks took the lead early and continued to stretch it out throughout the quarter, getting the lead into double digits at one point. As the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms, the Elks enjoyed a nine-point lead, 31-22.
Early in the second half, the Elks tried to make a statement and put the game out of reach. An 8-2 start to the third quarter stretched their lead to 15, 39-24, with just under six minutes remaining. The Wildcats would come off the mat the rest of the third quarter and outscore the Elks 16-5 to cut the lead to just four, 44-40, heading into what was going to be an intense final eight minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the two teams traded blows multiple times. The Wildcats would cut the lead to two on several occasions, but could never get over the hump as the Elks made enough free throws down the stretch and survived a ferocious, full court press to hang on for a hard-fought, 67-63 win.
Leading the way for the Elks was “Big” Mo Njie with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks. He was joined in double figures by the Elks leading scorer, Davis Mumaw, who had 15. Jason Sneed and Ryan Ballard were also in double figures with 12 and 11, respectively.
Now 22-5 on the year, the Elks return to The Cintas Center on Saturday night to face off against Cincinnati Moeller in the Regional Finals. Tip off is set for 7:00 PM with the winner advancing to The Final Four. Presale tickets are available here in the Athletic Office for $7 from 7:30-4:00 today and tomorrow and 11-1 on Saturday as well. CHS receives a portion of every ticket sold here at the school. All tickets at the gate are $8. Let’s get a huge crowd down to The Cintas Center to root on the Elks in arguably the biggest game in school history.