D-IV Boys Basketball Preview: St. Thomas Aquinas headlines deep Northeast District


The 2014 campaign came to a close with the Convoy Crestview Knights hoisting the hardware following a perfect (29-0) season. Head coach Jeremy Best and his boys were poetry-in-motion smothering teams with suffocating pressure defense and dialing up timely offense. The Convoy crew was the first DIV team to finish the year unbeaten since that powerful New Knoxville squad in 2008.

Crestview lost its three studs in Cam Etzler, Tyson Bolenbaugh, and Damian Helm, but don’t sleep on the Knights as they will certainly continue to be a factor. With the graduation loss of the above mentioned players, the door is open for teams like Tri-Village, Harvest Prep, Columbus Africentric, Cincinnati Aiken, Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, Georgetown, and Russia to make a run at the gold.

In our opinion, DIV is as deep as its been in quite some time. We are really looking forward to Ohio’s small school scene more than we have in awhile.

Northeast District Preview

Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (18-12)
*Lost to Convoy Crestview in the state finals.

Anthony Moeglin (6’0/Sr.); Jacob Paul (5’10/Jr.); Daniel Piero (5’10/Sr.); and Frank DiMarzio (6’1/Sr.).

Key Newcomers:
Gino Pellegrene (6’2/Jr.); Logan Newman (5’10/So.); Cullen Smith (6’3/So.); Jaret Knox (6’4/So.); Brad Duplin (6’2/Sr.); Ricky Drummond (5’8/Jr.); and Brandon Bihlman (6’0/Jr.).

Key Stats:
● Anthony Moeglin and Jacob Paul each averaged 11 points per game a year ago.

From the Coach:
“We are looking to build off last season’s success and continue building a strong program that can compete at a very high level every year,” said Matt Hackenberg, our reigning JJHuddle DIV Coach of the Year. “We return four players from last season with consistent varsity experience. We will try to make a more seamless transition for players transitioning from football to basketball, which attributed to a slow start last season.”

Season Outlook:
The Knights finished the regular season with an (11-11) record, but looked anything but average when the tournament started. STA ripped its way through the tourney trail winning by no fewer than 22 points in any game up until a two-point triumph of Richmond Heights in the regional finals. The Knights bested a very good Harvest Prep squad in the state semis by 13 points before falling victim to unbeaten Convy Crestview. Aquinas may find it difficult to replace the graduated Austin Hill, a JJHuddle Honorable Mention All-Ohio performer,but look for some newcomers to step up. STA should be the favorite in the Canton Regional with the return of regulars Moeglin, Paul, Piero, and DiMarzio. Moeglin is recovering from an injury, but he is currently practicing without restriction, so Hackenberg is optimistic. Coach Hackenberg’s bunch plays in a very difficult league with the likes of Cleveland VASJ and Cleveland Central Catholic, two of the state’s most talented squads. The Knights may not have an enviable record coming into the tournament, but as they proved a season ago, that matters very little.

Other Top Teams in Northeast Ohio
Richmond Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Lake Ridge Academy, Windham, Lowellville, Cortland Maplewood, Warren JFK, Kidron Central Catholic, Garfield Heights Trinity, and Mogadore.


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