COLUMBUS, Ohio — Luke Blasi couldn’t escape some nerves during Moeller High School’s late Thursday morning basketball practice at St. Francis DeSales High School.
With the Crusaders’ Division I state boys’ basketball semifinal against Lakewood St. Edward at 6 p.m., it was only natural to have a wave of anticipation.
Blasi, 18, and senior Louis Tallarigo, 17, won’t be in uniform tonight, yet the longtime friends will have a seat next to their Moeller basketball classmates on the bench at the Schottenstein Center.
Blasi and Tallarigo don’t receive the spotlight like Miles McBride or Alec Pfriem or some of the other standouts. But, Blasi (film) and Tallarigo (stats) have vital roles as Student Coaches within the program.
“We don’t look at all these successes and go, ‘Wow, we have done so much we are the greatest,’” Blasi said. “We look at our losses and we are like, ‘Man I really never want to do that again. I hate losing so much.’ And I think this brotherhood we have – everyone on this team really does have a vested in each other.”
Moeller (27-0) is the only undefeated team remaining this weekend in Columbus among the 798 high schools statewide that had varsity boys’ basketball this winter.
If the Crusaders defeat St. Ed’s (19-8) tonight, they will play in the state final at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. But, Moeller isn't looking past tonight. No one is assuming anything.
Blasi will be able to have a seat on the bench tonight, which is a rarity since he is usually in charge of filming the Moeller games, compiling highlight clips and uploading the film to Hudl.
“Moeller basketball has been an incredible opportunity for me just as a person,” Blasi said. “It’s given me opportunities in my life that I never would have had before.”
During the postseason tournament, another camera resides on the baseline in order to give the coaches another angle during game planning sessions.
Tallarigo is a statistician and is used to having a courtside seat compiling the box scores. He has a good appreciation of how stats impact scouting reports. He also said one category is representative of Big Moe.
“Charges especially in a program like this where we encourage those disciplined-type plays where we want to do things for the benefit of the team and not for the benefit of ourselves,” Tallarigo said. “Charges, as coach (Carl) Kremer says, are the most important play in Moeller basketball.”
Blasi and Tallarigo, who have known each other since their St. Gertrude Parish School days, have attended the 90 Moeller practices this season. They often get to practice 30 minutes early and also help set up the computers, sweep the floor or get water for the players.
“The work they put in is really cool,” said Moeller Statiscian Jai Schiavone.
Tallarigo, a National Honor Society student, also helps organize the stats for the baseball and football programs at Moeller. He admits there was a learning curve as a freshman entering the basketball program but he’s appreciated how stats are such an important component.
“It’s been fun to watch him grow,” said Moeller Sports Information Director Steven Albrinck. “I think he has done a great job over the past four years. He’s been a joy to be around.”
Blasi and Tallarigo also want to continue their duties at a college program next school year. Moeller basketball has given them a strong foundation for the future.
“The friendship and the culture that the coaches instill in us from Day 1 is incredible,” Tallarigo said.