Cincinnati St. Xavier showed why it was ranked No. 3 in Division I in the first state basketball poll this week with a convincing 69-47 win over Kettering Alter in a Greater Catholic League tilt Friday at Joe Petrocelli Gymnasium
The Bombers were led by senior forward Walt Gibler with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
KETTERING, Ohio – Cincinnati St. Xavier showed why it was ranked No. 3 in Division I in the first state basketball poll this week with a convincing 69-47 win over Kettering Alter in a Greater Catholic League tilt Friday at Joe Petrocelli Gymnasium.
The Bombers were paced by senior Loyola of Chicago recruit Walt Gibler, who poured in 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
“As long as we win the game, that is all that matters,” Gibler said. “My guys were looking for me and I happened to make a few shots. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
“He did a nice job of finding the openings in the zone,” St. Xavier head coach Scott Martin said of his star senior. “Alter plays a fantastic zone defense and we worked all week with Walt on trying to find those openings and he did a great job and guys did a great job of finding him so he could finish.”
St. Xavier (11-1, 7-1 GCL North) out-rebounded Alter 18-9 as the Knights (7-5, 3-4 GCL South) faced a size disadvantage in the paint.
“We had had that size advantage and against that zone you can use that to your advantage and I think we did a nice job doing that tonight,” Martin said. “I thought we did a nice job on the defensive end challenging the shooters and made it tough for them and we were able to control the defensive boards.”
The Bombers jumped out early outscoring Alter 16-6 in the first quarter and held a 21-14 advantage at the break.
“Offensively, I thought we were real patient took good shots,” Martin said about the early scoring outburst.
Alter settled in second half hanging with St. Xavier scoring 14 points to the Bombers 15 in the third frame. But Alter’s aggressiveness got the Knights in team foul trouble early sending the Bombers to the line for 21 free throw attempts after the break. St. Xavier was 19-26 from the charity stripe for the game.
Knights junior guard Jamarre White scored 13 of his team high 15 points in the second half.
“We talked a lot in the locker room at halftime and said that we hed to step it up,” White said. “We know they are good but we knew we had to come back and try to make it a game at least.”
But Gibler was hard to contain despite the Alter’s second half surge scoring 13 straight points for the Bombers.
“Gibler is an excellent player. It was kind of hard to defend him,” White said.
Said Gibler: “A team is always going to come back at you with a punch when you knock them down in the first half like we did, so we were ready for that and we were able to counter it.”
St. Xavier, which finished Division I state runners up last season, fell to Division II Alter last season at home 57-55.
“Last year, we lost to these guys and we wanted to come back and win this game – it was a pride issue for us,” Gibler said. “So, coming out here with intensity was a big thing for us.”
Senior guard Brad Loesing added 12 points and five boards for the Bombers, who were 22-of-44 from the floor on the night.
Junior guard Ryan Siggins contributed 11 points for Alter.
As for St. Xavier’s early season recognition as one of the top teams in the state, Gibler said: “I think we can play with anyone in the state. I think those rankings don’t really mean too much to us but we’re willing to play with anyone in the state. We’re not scared of anyone.
Sophomore Luke Massa dropped 29 points, including seven three-pointers, in St. Xavier’s 46-34 junior varsity win over Alter prior to the varsity tip.
Massa took over under center for the Bombers last fall for the varsity football team in Week 8 following the knee injury to senior signal caller John Hurley. St. Xavier finished a perfect 15-0 and Division I state champions with Massa taking the snaps for seven weeks.