By John Bombatch
XENIA — Small, but feisty.
That pretty much sums up the playing style of the 2015-‘16 Greeneview Rams girls high school basketball team. There’s not a player on the team’s roster over six feet tall, and so coach Tim Hoelle and his staff have had to change up the team’s playing style to fit its size, or lack of it.
On Saturday, the smaller Rams jumped out to a 14-0 lead and defeated the bigger, but less experienced Xenia Buccaneers, 67-32, on Xenia’s home floor.
“We’ve got a very different team from what we had last year. Very small,” Hoelle admitted. “Style wise, we’re playing a lot differently from what we played last year, but I think our girls have adjusted to it pretty well.”
Hoelle has four veteran starters back from last year’s Division III district runner-up squad. But rather than play a deliberate half-court style of basketball like last season, Hoelle has them playing more of an up-tempo game where they’re making fast breaks in transition and taking advantage of the team’s collective speed and quickness.
Faith Strickle led Greeneview (1-0) with a 25-point effort, 16 of which came in the second half. Sydnie Sonneman finished with 13 points and Kristen Combs added 11.
“Faith (Strickle) has really long arms, and that helps her when she gets the ball down low. She’s one of the hardest workers we’ve got on our team. We’re not intentionally playing her inside, but those are reads that she’s making and she’s taking advantage of what she can do in there,” Hoelle said.
First-year Xenia coach Kyle Gray applauded his youthful group for not giving up at halftime when the Bucs were down 37-7.
“We’re starting from scratch,” he said. “At some points in time, we can play like we’re a solid basketball team. But at other points, our inexperience shows. Right now, I’ve got a couple kids out with injuries. So I’ve gotta try and figure out how to do this with a short bench with kids in foul trouble.
“In the second half, I thought we played hard. First half, I don’t think I can say that. But again, that’s me having us ready to go. I knew it was going to be a tough chore of having a game that ended at 9:30 p.m. the night before, and having us back and ready to play today,” Gray said.
While dealing with injuries and foul troubles, Xenia is still figuring out its identity.
Cora Stevens, who led the Bucs with 13 points in Friday night’s home opener loss to Springfield Shawnee, was limited to three points on Saturday afternoon.
Charlie Stone, who had five points in the Shawnee loss, led the Buccaneers with a 10-point day on Saturday.
Jada Wallace had eight points in the Shawnee loss, but finished with six againt Greeneview.
Xenia played Beavercreek in what would likely be another tough learning experience, Monday night.
Gray said the scrimmage aspect of the preseason — where one quarter you’re playing one team and then next quarter you’re playing a new quarter against an entirely new team — was what he emphasized at halftime to his girls.
They forgot about the 30-point deficit and just got out there and played like it was a new quarter. As a result, Greeneview only outscored Xenia in the third quarter by a single point, 15-14.
“We talked about competing quarters at halftime,” Gray said. “And they responded with a good effort, especially in that third quarter.”
Xenia (0-2) has time to regroup. Its next contest isn’t until after the Thanksgiving break, Dec. 3 in Sidney.
Greeneview (1-0) will enjoy its home opener at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they host Springfield Northwestern for a non-conference game.