For the fourth time in the last five years, the boys basketball team won the District championship and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament. Unfortunately, the Elks are still looking for that elusive first appearance in the State Final Four.
Standing in the way of the Elks on Wednesday night in the Regional Semifinals at Xavier’s Cintas Center was the two-time defending state champion and top-ranked Moeller Crusaders. These two teams have become very familiar with each other as this was the fourth meeting over the last two seasons. The Crusaders came into the game having won 109 of their last 114 games. Since the 2017 season, they have gone 28-1, with their only loss coming in the state championship game, 27-3 and winning the state title, 29-0 and repeating as state champions and 25-1 so far this year looking for their third straight state title. The Elks knew they faced a tall task and were up to the challenge early, but the Crusaders depth and talent quickly took over shortly thereafter.
As the game started, both teams were a little hesitant offensively as they tried to solve each other’s defense. With the game tied, 5-5, the Crusaders scored the last four points of the quarter to take a 9-5 lead after eight minutes of play. Just as they did in their District championship game on Sunday, they quickly slammed the door in the second quarter. Scoring the first 13 points of the quarter, the Crusaders bolted to a 22-5 lead which forced the Elks to burn two of their timeouts. As the buzzer sounded and the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms at halftime, the Crusaders had an 18-point lead, 28-10. The Elks played a little better in the third quarter, but the Crusaders were still able to extend their lead to 20, 40-20, after three quarters of play. The fourth quarter got very exciting for the Elks fans who were permitted to see the game as the boys continued to play better and made a nice run at Moeller. A 13-4 run closed the gap to nine, 49-40, with 2:50 left. The Elks had an opportunity to get even closer, but a turnover and a couple of missed three point shots prevented that from happening. The Crusaders hit 5 of 7 free throws down the stretch and held the Elks to two free throws of their own to win their 25th straight game, 54-42.
Freshman Gabe Cupps led the way with 18 as the team finished the year 15-12.