Ty Hornsby got an up-close look at Moeller High School’s high-flying boys basketball act Wednesday night.
The Talawanda forward was impressed, even if he didn’t exactly enjoy it.
“When everyone on their team can dunk and one person on our team can — kind of — it’s definitely intimidating,” Hornsby said after his Braves took a 71-20 beating in a Division I sectional semifinal at the Hamilton Athletic Center. “I hope they win state. They’re a good team. They deserve it.”
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The top-seeded Crusaders (21-3) ran off 26 straight points to open the game and led 43-4 at halftime. The rest of the contest went quickly, thanks to the running clock.
Hornsby had 12 points for No. 32 seed Talawanda, which finished 5-18 in Tim Reed’s first season as head coach.
“We could’ve played our best game against them and it might’ve turned out the same way,” Reed said. “We thought we had a good game plan and really didn’t execute it very well. The kids kept trying. Effort has never been a problem. We just threw it to them too many times on offense, and then on defense, we didn’t get back like we worked on the last 10 days.
“Our game plan was to run offense, be patient, 60 seconds a possession, try to get a good shot … and we came out and just started jacking it up at the beginning, and that wasn’t a good thing for success. Maybe the stage was too big for us. I just know it went south quickly.”
Moeller, ranked second in the last Associated Press state poll, got 12 points apiece from Chase Kendall and Jeremiah Davenport. Thirteen of the 15 Crusaders scored, and nobody played more than 14 minutes and five seconds.
Six of Moeller’s seven dunks came in the first half.
“Sometimes when games get lopsided early, it’s hard to keep your kids sharing the ball and playing the game the right way,” Crusaders coach Carl Kremer said. “I really felt like our kids played the game the right way for all 32 minutes tonight. I was proud of how the kids conducted themselves.”
As overwhelming as the margin was, there was no doubt it could’ve been much worse. Kremer’s crew opened the postseason with another Southwest Ohio Conference opponent, Harrison, and that proved to be a 63-28 rout.
“You do feel for the other side,” Kremer said. “It’s tough for those kids, it’s tough for the coaches. I think you have to be cognizant of that, but you can’t go to where you’re not playing either. That’s even more insulting. So you keep playing, but you be respectful.”
Moeller — last season’s state runner-up — has three players committed to play at the next level: Jaxson Hayes (Texas), Isaiah Payton (Indiana Wesleyan) and Davenport (Wright State).
The Crusaders’ three losses came against teams from Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York. They’re on a 14-game winning streak.
“I put zero value in being No. 2 in the state,” Kremer said. “Here’s what I do think about this team: It was vastly overrated when the season started. Four brand-new starters, and nobody expected that to be smooth. But I think this team has improved as much as any team I’ve had in recent memory. I think our trajectory is going up.”
Moeller shot 56.4 percent from the floor and turned the ball over five times against the Braves, who shot 29.4 percent with 19 turnovers.
Hornsby tallied 10 points after halftime.
“We went out there and played,” he said. “It was David against Goliath, and David still showed. I’m proud of my guys.”
Talawanda is losing six seniors: Hornsby, Evan James, Nick Frymier, Blake Bryan, Daniel Wetzel and Josh DeWitt.
“It was a good season,” Hornsby said. “Enjoyed it, going to miss it, but hopefully we’ll leave some form of legacy for Talawanda. Hopefully we’ve been good role models for the younger guys so they can come and do better than us.”
Reed is planning to return to his head coaching position next season.
“The season as a whole is a success because we started late,” he said. “We could’ve done a lot better with wins and losses, but we improved from Day 1 to the end of the season minus this last game. Our goal is to compete in the SWOC every night, and I think we’ve got the athletes to do that. We’ll get a whole summer in this year and see what we can do.”
The Crusaders will be back at Hamilton to face 14th-seeded Withrow (16-8) for a sectional title Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers extended their winning streak to seven by edging Middletown 41-39 in Wednesday’s first game at HHS.
TALAWANDA (5-18): Evan James 2 0 4, David Kraushar 1 0 2, Ty Hornsby 6 0 12, Josh DeWitt 1 0 2. Totals: 10-0-20
MOELLER (21-3): Isaiah Payton 2 0 4, Carlos Garcia 1 0 2, Jaxson Hayes 4 0 8, Jeremiah Davenport 6 0 12, Alec Pfriem 1 0 2, Jackson O’Bryan 1 0 2, Dene White 1 0 2, Jack McCracken 2 0 4, Michael Shipp 2 2 6, Chase Harding 3 0 9, Max Land 3 0 6, Jaret Tabler 1 0 2, Chase Kendall 4 1 12. Totals: 31-3-71
3-pointers: M 6 (Harding 3, Kendall 3)