CINCINNATI — Elder senior guard Aidan Byrne saw the back-and-forth on social media this week leading up to the annual rivalry basketball game with Oak Hills Tuesday night.
Any time the West Side rivals meet on the court, it coincides with special anticipation.
“For some of these guys you only get one chance to play Oak Hills so you have to take advantage of it,” Elder coach Joe Schoenfeld said. “I thought we did a good job tonight.”
Elder defeated visiting Oak Hills 45-31 in front a sold-out crowd at The Pit. The Panthers outscored the Highlanders 27-17 in the second half and played a strong defensive game.
Elder (7-9) snapped a four-game losing streak with the win. The Panthers led undefeated Moeller through three quarters at home Jan. 18 but eventually lost to the Crusaders. Covington Catholic defeated Elder 47-31 the following afternoon in Middletown.
However, Schoenfeld said Tuesday night the Panthers are healthy and improving at the right time of the season.
“We’re not great,” Schoenfeld said. “We’re not even really good yet. But, we feel like we are headed in the right direction.”
Byrne scored a team-high 14 points including four 3-pointers to lead the Panthers. He had three steals, three rebounds, two assists and a block.
“It was one of the best games I’ve ever played,” Byrne said.
Junior guard Matthew Luebbe added nine points including eight halfway through the third quarter to help Elder. The Panthers outscored Oak Hills 12-6 in the third quarter after it had a 5-2 advantage in the second quarter.
“All the fans in the cheering section were rallying behind us,” Byrne said. “It’s pretty easy when you have everyone on your back.”
Elder next plays at La Salle Friday night.
Oak Hills (9-5) plays host to Middletown Friday night. Oak Hills senior guard Deandre Hayes had 15 points for the Highlanders.
Oak Hills coach Mike Price said Elder exhibited its toughness on his squad Tuesday night.
“It’s up to us as a group to come in and work harder,” Price said.