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(FREE) NOHS: Holy Grounds Classic | Top 10 Performers

By T.J. Peatross, 12/13/23, 2:00PM EST


Eric Mahaffer (senior) & Carl Kremer

Moeller Edges Out STVM

The inaugural Holy Grounds Classic presented by NOHS Games and FunGame Sports took place this past weekend at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School as eight teams squared off in what was a competitive day of basketball. Cincinnati Moeller knocked off the host school 56-51 thanks to a 7-2 run in the final two minutes of play. Lutheran West picked up a statement win over Frederick Douglass (GA) as they already to be approaching midseason form. Their affiliate school, Lutheran East, picked up their fourth consecutive win following another impressive showing from senior Jesse McCulloch.

Continue reading to check out the top performers!


Time Game Location
1:45PM Akron STVM (51) vs. Cincinnati Moeller (56) LeBron James Arena
3:30PM CVCA (61) vs. Brush (52) LeBron James Arena
5:15PM Lutheran West (80) vs. Frederick Douglass (62) LeBron James Arena
7:00PM Lutheran East (77) vs. Holy Name (66) LeBron James Arena

Top Performers

Class of 2024

Derek Fairley (Lutheran West) 6'2 CG

Fairley has been the primary catalyst for Lutheran West thanks to his ability to impact the game in a wide variety of ways, particularly with his motor on the defensive side of the ball. Against a long and athletic Frederick Douglass (GA) group, the 6'2 senior made a number of tough, winning plays both as an on-ball defender and as a help side guy. His length and anticipation make him one of the premier defenders in the area and he impressed with his unselfishness in the halfcourt setting, efficiently picking his spots and always willing to make the extra pass to teammates. Fairley's improved pace and consistent shotmaking this month has been notable as he's made quite a significant jump from last year's breakout season. 

Aliyy King (Brush) 6'7 PF/C

The long-term upside and talent has started to manifest itself in the form of production for King. The 6'7 big put his full offensive repertoire on display this past Saturday, including a dominant third quarter. He gets great lift and extension on his jump hook and showcased a feathery soft touch on a handful of jumpers, knocking down back-to-back threes early in the second half. King's rim running capabilities, combined with his unique physical profile, make him an intriguing frontcourt piece for regional programs as he fits the mold for what many desperately need from their five men. While he is beginning his senior under Coach Chet Mason, King is still relatively new to basketball having only been playing for three to four years of his life. 

Eric Mahaffey (Cincinnati Moeller) 6'5 WF

Mahaffey, one of the top tock risers from this past summer, finished with a game-high 16 points and helped Cincinnati Moeller pick up a quality win on the road against the host school, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. The University of Akron commit had success attacking long closeouts, scoring at the rim, and utilizing his length and body control to evade contests on his way to a handful tough, two-foot finishes. Perhaps the highlight of the day came from an emphatic 1-leg dunk as Mahaffey was able to pick up a full head of steam before exploding at the rim early in the second half. His emergence as a senior, especially early on in the year, has been key for a Moeller team who has been without two key members of their rotation due to injury.

Jesse McCulloch (Lutheran East) 6'9 C

An early candidate for Ohio's prestigious Mr. Basketball award, the 6'9 Michigan State commit has been on an absolute tear for the Falcons. He picked up his third straight Game MVP award following a 20-point performance against Holy Name. With the departure of 2026 T.J. Crumble, who is now at Richmond Heights, McCulloch has made a conscious effort to be more assertive on the offensive end and there aren't many teams in Ohio that have an answer for his diverse skillset. He showcased range out to the three-point line but was also willing to run hard from rim to rim as a part of the Falcons' transition offense. 

LaVelle Sharpe Jr. (CVCA) 6'1 CG

Sharpe finished with a game-high 21 points against Brush and the senior has seamlessly transitioned into his role as the team's go-to guy following the departure of 2025 Darryn Peterson. The 6'1 guard was a handful getting downhill and his relentless attack put a ton of pressure on the Arcs' defense, particularly in early transition, as he was able to push the tempo and create quality looks for himself at the rim. He scored the ball in bunches throughout the contest and knocked down a pair of free throws in the final minutes to seal the game. Sharpe, who joined CVCA last year from Akron Buchtel, has bought in to Coach Matt Futch's gritty, disciplined style of play and has been instrumental in the team's 3-0 start to the season. 

Tino Yli-Junnilla (Lutheran West) 6'5 WF/PF

In his first season under Coach Duke, Yli-Junnila has wasted little to no time getting acclimated to the Longhorns uptempo offense and he has already established himself as a more than serviceable weapon for last year's Division 2 runner-up. The 6'5 wing is a high-level shotmaker off the move and has an exceptional feel for playing without the basketball, using a variety of basket cuts to get in the lane or freeing himself up off of screen actions. Yli-Junnilla, a native of Finland, is a "sleeper" in Northeast Ohio's senior class and has started to gain momentum with his recruiting. 

Class of 2025

Max Bollin (Holy Name) 6'4 WF

Bollin put on a masterclass in shooting the basketball during the first half of Holy Name's bout against Lutheran East, the reigning Division 3 state champions. He made a number of high-difficulty shots off the bounce and was comfortable operating in tight spaces, using his size and length at 6'4 to shoot overtop defenders. The deficit at halftime was just nine points and Bollin's efforts in the first half, along with the play of fellow junior Drew Styers, allowed Holy Name to stay within striking distance after 16 minutes of play. As he continues to mature both mentally and physically, expect Bollin to see his recruitment pick up this coming Spring/Summer as he has already carved out a clear niche thanks to his size and shotmaking. 

Alex Kazanecki (Cincinnati Moeller) 6'5 PF/WF

One of NEO Spotlight's early candidates for our "Breakout Juniors" article later this season, Kazanecki will have an opportunity to become a popular name in recruiting circles thanks to his intriguing combination of size and perimeter touch. The 6'5 forward shot an effortless ball in catch-and-shoot opportunities and could get it off quickly by staying shot ready off the dribble drive. He finished with 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds but it was his 8-point third quarter that allowed the Crusaders to hang around, ultimately walking away with the win.

Class of 2026

Rayshawn Hamilton (Akron STVM) 6'4 WF

Despite their record in the month of December, Hamilton has been one of the bright spots for a young and promising Fighting Irish group. He plays with a sense of urgency that is rare to find in underclassmen and his junkyard dog mentality is what basketball fans in Northeast Ohio have been accustomed to seeing from players wearing the green and gold. Hamilton shot an efficient 6/8 from the field, including a perfect 3/3 from behind the arc, and grabbed a handful of 50/50 rebounds. The 6'4 slasher is most effective attacking in straight lines but has also shown the ability to stretch the floor throughout the early parts of this season. 

Class of 2027

Chris Hill (Lutheran East) 5'11 PG

Coach Sam Liggins and staff have been singing Hill's praises since the Fall and the freshman's play through five games has done more than speak for itself. Hil joined the Falcons starting lineup in large part to his effort as an on-ball defender. He has been picking up full court and shutting off the water of the opposing team's best player on what has started to become a nightly basis. For a young guy, he does a remarkable job of staying low, showing his hands, and being an aggressive defender while avoiding whistles. Hill accepted the challenge of Holy Name's Max Bollin, who was coming off a phenomenal first half, and limited him to just eight second half points, giving the Falcons just enough time to pull out an 11-point victory. 

Honorable Mention (A-Z)

  • Anthony Bruce (Lutheran East) 2024 G
  • Noah Chambers (Akron STVM) 2025 G
  • Jayson Levis (Lutheran West) 2024 G
  • Matthew Meyer (Lutheran West) 2025 F/C
  • Niles Nuru (CVCA) 2025 G
  • Drew Styers (Holy Name) 2025 G/W