By John Bombatch Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
January 14, 2014
XENIA —Less than 24 hours after a disappointing road loss to Greene County and Greater Western Ohio Conference rival Fairborn, the Xenia boys basketball team righted its ship in convincing fashion with Saturday’s 73-57 home win over Dayton Meadowdale.
The two teams battled to a 55-55 tie with 3:49 left to play in the contest. Then, just moments after both teams had players foul out of the game (Jaylin Cumberland for Xenia; and James Burnsey for Meadowdale), the Buccaneers caught fire. Xenia reeled off an impressive 18-2 run to close out the game and grab the win.
Brent Bauer scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and was a perfect 14-for-14 from the freethrow line for the game. Khyiani Harris scored 11 points of his 16-point effort in the second half, Clayton Kadel scored nine of his 11 points in the half, and Chris Willingham came off the bench to lead the team in rebounds with 11 while scoring nine points.
The Bucs (6-5) had lost, 69-62, in Fairborn the night before.
“That was awesome. To go through the game on tired legs, and play that kind of a half of basketball, and then to be that strong in the fourth quarter, that was awesome,” said Xenia coach Kent Anderson.
The coach said he intentionally rotated 11 players in and out for much of the first half, in hopes of enabling his players to get their legs back after Friday’s game. Perhaps that may have helped Meadowdale stay in the ball game. The Lions (4-8) led 31-25 at the half.
Xenia went into a half-court trapping style of defense in the second half, and that seemed to give Meadowdale a lot of problems. Willingham said Rocky James’ half-court score as time expired in the first half helped a bit, too.
“That half-court shot helped us out going into halftime, and that just gave us energy going into the second half,” Willingham said. “And then that final quarter, we just turned it up on defense.”
Bauer said some time spent earlier in the day shooting in the gym with his brother, Brandon, did him a world of good.
“Last night when I was shooting (against Fairborn), I was falling backwards. And we came in and my brother and I shot around for about an hour or so. We just came in and got it right,” Bauer said. “The bench helped a lot, and everyone on the bench was encouraging us. Coach said that’s the first time in 2-3 years that he saw the bench going crazy like that. It was a big help. Everyone was just helping out. Everyone contributed.”
Meadowdale has been decimated by injuries for much of the season thus far. Saturday’s game was the first in several weeks that coach Felix Turner had his starting point guard and a key post player back in the same lineup.
“We missed a couple easy shots, and we weren’t able to convert our free throws. I think that helped them gain the separation that they needed,” Turner said. “And we just kind of fell apart there in the end, but prior to that, we just did not make our free throws and we did not make a lot of easy shots.”
Unofficially, Meadowdale converted 13 of 23 free throws for the game. They hit just 4 of 12 in the second half.
Xavier Gullaite led the Lions with 16 points scored, while teammate Kevon Hugely finished with 10. Huguely and Burnsey fouled out of the game.
Xenia returns to Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division play with a road game Thursday at Miamisburg.