COLUMBUS - When the No. 1 and 2 teams in the state meet each other, the ensuing battle is sure to be memorable.
Friday's Division I state semifinal between undefeated and top-ranked Cincinnati Moeller and No. 2 Pickerington Central certainly fit the bill. The 28-0 Crusaders outscored PC 20-9 in the final stanza to pull off a 57-47 win and a berth in their first state championship game since 2010.
The Crusaders, ranked 15th nationally by MaxPreps, trailed by six after the first quarter but clawed back on repeated occasions. Perhaps the key statistic for Moeller was bench points as the Crusaders outscored Pickerington Central 19-0, powered by a 17-point explosion off the bench for junior Jeremiah Davenport.
Miles McBride poured in 13 points, one of three Moeller starters to hit double digits. Isaiah 'Sleepy' Payton and 6-5 senior Keegan McDowell netted 10 markers apiece. Davenport racked up four offensive rebounds, scoring putback buckets on all four, including a tip-in on a halfcourt attempt to beat the second quarter buzzer.
University of North Carolina signee Sterling Manley, a 6-11 post behemoth, had 12 points and seven rebounds in the loss for the Tigers. Sophomore guard Jeremiah Francis hit four triples and had 16 points while Adrian Nelson chipped in 11.