XENIA — Cedarville High School’s boys varsity basketball team had only played twice this season so far, but they’ve started a bit of a pattern in both games. The Indians rallied, after being 14 points down twice in the first half, to claim a 53-47 win Saturday to spoil the Xenia Christian Ambassadors’ home opener.
“(Friday night against Springfield Emmanuel Christian), we had to fight back to get a win, and I think that experience definitely helped us tonight,” Cedarville coach Ryan Godlove said. His Indians trailed Emmanuel Christian by five points with two minutes left to play and rallied for a one-point win in that contest.
After trailing by scores of 23-9 and then 29-15 in the first half, Cedarville outscored Xenia Christian 18-6 in the third quarter to take the lead 38-36 on Josh Wilson’s steal and score with 1.8 seconds left in the quarter.
The Ambassadors’ Ashton Burke and David Kensinger combined efforts to put Xenia Christian back out front 43-40 with just over five minutes left to play, but Cedarville’s 11-of-16 free throw shooting the rest of the way earned them the win.
“It seemed like we had two totally different teams playing tonight, like Jekyll and Hyde,” Godlove said. “We saw one team in the first half, and then the better team in that second half. We never gave up, and our guys continued to fight. To see that from the guys early in the season like this, to fight through adversity like that, that shows a lot about the character of our team this year.”
Wilson led all scorers with 25 points, and 14 of those came in the second half. Jacob Gannon scored 16 for the Indians (2-0).
Godlove appreciated the contributions three relatively inexperienced bench players made during the contest.
“We had Austin Orr, Alex Zaage and Everett Harding come in with very little experience when we were down (by 13) at the end of the first quarter, and we got the deficit to 10 points (30-20) by halftime. So for those three to come in and replace our starters and get the deficit down like that, that was huge for us tonight,” he said.
Xenia Christian’s Burke scored 13 points in the Ambassador loss.
“How many points did Wilson get against us?” Xenia Christian coach Brad Newsome asked. When told he’d scored 25, Newsome said it felt like the Indians scorer had tallied about 40.
“Those Cedarville starters were all seniors; we’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Newsome laughed. “In the time frame that (the rally) happened, some of it was us, and some of it was them. We still have some things to work on.”
Newsome said rebounding became an issue, especially in the second half when one of his leading rebounders (Braden Martin) fouled out, and two others (Tony Bonds and David Rose) played with four fouls apiece.
“Cedarville didn’t give up. You could tell that their five starters (Wilson, Nick Christman, Kosai Al-Hasan, Gannon and Kevin Hall) were seniors. They played hard and found a way to win,” Newsome said.
Cedarville will play its home opener at 7:30 p.m. tonight against Greenon. Xenia Christian is also in action tonight. They play their first road contest of the season, also at 7:30 p.m. at Carlisle.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.