CEDARVILLE — On paper, 2-0 Xenia Christian’s record looked just as undefeated as Cedarville’s 3-0 mark. But on the basketball court, Cedarville’s girls basketball squad just seemed a little bigger, sharper, faster and stronger.
Cedarville remained undefeated and handed the visiting Ambassadors a convincing 62-36 loss.
The host Indians led from the very start and had a 20-5 lead after the first quarter of play. Cedarville’s Hayley Melton and Isabelle Bolender set the tone early as the two combined to give the Indians an early 6-0 margin in the game’s first 2 1/2 minutes of play.
By the time Xenia Christian’s Rachel Sweeney hit the Ambassadors’ first shot from the floor, Cedarville was out in front 8-3. By the time Sweeney converted her next bucket, the Indians were up 15-5.
The visibly smaller Ambassadors got several good looks at the basket, but if any of their shots would clank off the rim, a taller and maybe more physical Cedarville Indian was there to snare the rebound.
Then at the other end, Cedarville had several opportunities where Indian players were able to muscle their way inside to put up a good shot for a score.
Indians coach Chad Mason was happy with his team’s play, for the most part. They may be 4-0, but he knows his team still has some things to work on.
“The difference between ourselves and some of the other teams is that we are physically stronger. We can rip the ball away at times, and that helps us rebound,” Mason said. “So I’m happy with the strength that we’ve shown early on.
“But in our conference, we’re not the biggest or the strongest team around. So now we’re getting ready to play our conference schedule, and we have to be ready for that. We have three very tough conference games coming up, and we need to sharpen some things I saw tonight, before then.”
Cedarville plays three Ohio Heritage Conference contenders in a row to begin league play. They are at West Liberty-Salem on Thursday, they’ll host county foe Greeneview on Saturday, then they play at South Charleston Southeastern on Dec. 10.
While Mason was happy with the offensive performance, with Bolender and Melton combining for 16 and 15 points respectively, he wasn’t as giddy about how his Indians handled Xenia Christian defensively.
“We gave them some open looks, especially from 3-point range, that I didn’t want to see,” he said.
Unofficially, Xenia Christian (2-1) hit 2 of its 13 3-point tries. Sweeney, who scored a dozen points, hit them both. Katie Riddle led Xenia Christian with a 15-point effort.
“Losses teach you how to get better, and I think I’m learning that with our lack of size we’re a very perimeter-oriented team,” Xenia Christian coach Mark Combs said. “We’ve got to shoot the ball better.”
Xenia Christian begins Metro Buckeye Conference play on Thursday when they’ll play at Dayton Christian.