FAIRBORN — Emotions were ratcheted up on both sides of the rivalry matchup early, but only one side was able to prevent a mental drainage as the game wore on.
Xenia turned the tide after halftime with a long scoring run and frustrated the Fairborn offense as the Bucs won 61-48 on the road Friday in the first game of the season between the two schools.
Xenia acting head coach Brandon Philpot, filling in for Mike Arlinghaus, said it was his belief that the Xenia players played its best game together this season.
“We’ve really talked about playing together and who cares who gets the stats, we got to play hard and fast and only care about the finished product,” he said.
On the other side, a similar theme played out for the Skyhawks that has plagued their losses. While they held an early lead and overall were only outscored by one in three combined quarters, it was a single eight-minute period which let them down again.
“We just came out flat,” Fairborn head coach Billy Harchick said of his team’s third quarter play. “Just didn’t hit any shots, didn’t stop them obviously on the defensive end. Just an all around back quarter.”
Xenia trailed 23-22 at the break and came out of the locker room with clear intentions to get as many shots resonating from within the paint as possible. The Bucs scored seven of the eight baskets of the second half, all scoring two points.
Fairborn tried to get back in the game with shots from three, but numerous turnovers didn’t even allow for attempts to be made.
Xenia had 30 of its 35 second half shots come from inside the arc, while 15 of Fairborn’s 23 were outside of it.
“I think we get trigger happy with the threes,” Harchick said. “We had six two-point baskets the whole game, and I mean, you can’t win ballgames like that.”
Damien Weaver had 14 points for Xenia, and Kellan Starks scored 12 with all of his points coming in the second half. Ty Williams led all scorers with 19 for Fairborn, and Darius Davis, Jr. added 14.
Both teams struggled to find open looks near the basket in the opening quarter, as they combined to take 14 of the first 16 shots of the game from three.
Xenia started earning free throw attempts late in the quarter and connected on 10 of 14 attempts in the first half to keep the score close.
Fairborn lost the lead midway through the second on a 9-3 run by Xenia, but the Skyhawks followed it up with its own 10-0 run that included a strong and-one basket by Jaxson Roschi. The Bucs cut its deficit back to one at the break though by getting back to the line.
Xenia came into the game shooting only 47 percent from the line, but made 18 of its 24 attempts overall against Fairborn to help close out the game late.