Ambassadors fend off youthful Yellow Springs

By John Bombatch Sports Editor jbombatch@civitasmedia.com

February 8, 2014

XENIA — Host Xenia Christian withstood an early charge from a very youthful Yellow Springs squad, then took control of the game with a mid-quarter run for Friday’s 62-41 win in Metro Buckeye Conference action.

Yellow Springs started four sophomores and a freshman, yet they jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on a putback by sophomore Isaiah Taylor. He was fouled on the score and hit the free throw as well.

After Xenia Christian’s Jordan Freeman evened things up with a 3-pointer from the left corner, sophomore Kaner Butler took an inbounds pass from Taylor and scored to put the Bulldogs back out in front roughly three minutes into the game.

Xenia Christian rolled off a 20-6 run for the rest of the first quarter, and took command of the game.

“Starting fast is something that we’ve really worked on, and the guys were able to do that tonight,” Xenia Christian coach Shaun Power said. “The thing that has been hard is, when you get a little bit of success, we tend to let up. And the challenge, especially for high school players, has been to keep that intensity up. And today we saw that.

“Yellow Springs is a really hard working team. They’re well coached, and they continued to fight. At one point, they got the lead down to nine or eight points, and we needed to continue to work hard against them. But yeah, a fast start really helped us tonight.”

Freeman, a senior, led Xenia Christian (13-5, 8-2 MBC) with a game-high 21 points, and senior teammate Justin Martin finished with 19. Sophomore Peter Wilson also got into double-figure scoring with 10.

Yellow Springs coach Steve Grasso said he was proud of how his team never quit. He said the team’s youth might’ve gotten the best of them early on.

“We were ahead 8-7, and so we had a pretty good effort at the beginning. We stayed with our game plan and we were executing what we wanted to do, offensively and defensively, for the first three or four possessions,” Grasso said. “They made some shots, we made some shots. But then we lost our focus of what we were supposed to do with about four minutes left in that opening quarter, and they were able to pull away.”

Grasso said the goal to start the second half was to cut the 38-21 halftime deficit down to 10-12 points. And with a 7-2 run to start the second half, the Bulldogs whittled the deficit down to 40-28 at the 6:02 mark.

“We cut into the 17-point lead and got it down to 12, but then we once again lost focus and Xenia Christian was able to pull away from us again,” Grasso said. “I’m really proud of how hard my guys played. They never quit. Each possession, they were playing to the best of their ability, and that’s all that a coach can ask of his players.”

Kaner Butler led Yellow Springs (3-15, 2-7 MBC) with 12 points, Devon Perry finished with nine and Taylor tossed in eight to lead the Bulldogs, who travel south to play Cincinnati Shroder tonight.

Xenia Christian is also in action today. They will host Columbus Village Academy today, then they wind their regular season with home games next week with Emmanuel Christian, Troy Christian and Tri-County North.