XENIA — It’s been more than eight years since Xenia Christian had played Xenia in a girls basketball game. So maybe Xenia’s Unique Conner was making up for lost time.
Conner scored 21 of her game-high 29 points in the first half and Xenia rolled to a 73-56 win, but it wasn’t without a fight. Xenia Christian had whittled the lead down to single digits roughly midway through the fourth quarter, but that’s when Xenia coach Terry Toliver put Conner back into the game.
Conner, the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s rebounding leader, was a force on the boards against the smaller Ambassador players, scoring most all of her points from inside the paint.
“I was proud of my girls for battling back and getting the score within nine points,” Xenia Christian coach Bev Moser said. “But we didn’t have an answer for number 44 (Conner). She’s one heckuva player. We made some defensive adjustments to get back in the game, but she was too much.”
Katie Riddle led Xenia Christian (9-11) with 20 points, Rachel Graver scored 12 and Rachel Sweeney added 10 in Monday night’s home loss.
The Ambassadors wrap up their regular season today with a 7:30 p.m. home league game against Troy Christian.
The Greater Western Ohio Conference website has game statistics dating back to the 2005-2006 girls basketball season. In that span of time, Xenia and Xenia Christian had not played each other. Neither coach could remember the last time the teams had played, but they knew it was the first time that they had faced each other while they were the coaches of their respective teams.
Xenia is considered a Division I-sized Ohio High School with 1,037 students, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Xenia Christian is a Division IV athletic school with 97.
Toliver would like for Xenia athletes to live up to their Division I level of play every day.
“We’re trying to change the culture of all of our athletes at the high school,” he said. “We need all of our kids to understand that when they play at the varsity level, they have to step up to that level all the time. It starts with commitment, sacrifice and working hard. We’re trying to do that school wide. I think that’s the problem right now. Our kids are not competing at that high level. … We’re too up and down.”
Aside from Conner’s 29, Makenna Taylor added 13 points and Tamerah Jabbar finished with nine for Xenia (6-15).
Next up for the Buccaneers is the D-I sectional tournament where they’ll face top-seeded Centerville for a 10 a.m. game, Saturday at Wayne High School in Huber Heights.
“Hey, we’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going to go in there and do our best against a very good Centerville team,” Toliver said. “If my kids play their hardest, that’s all I can ask of them.”