XENIA — A strong second quarter gave host Xenia enough of a lead to hang on for a 66-60 win over Greater Western Ohio Conference divisional rival Fairborn, Friday, Feb. 17 at Xenia High.
The Buccaneers and Skyhawks were all even at 16-all after the first eight minutes of play, but Xenia outscored Fairborn 21-8 in the first seven minutes of the second to go up by 15 points at 37-22 with 1:13 left in the half.
Brandon Love scored 10 of his team-best 17 points during the run, while teammates Samari Curtis, Ricky Williams and Teandre’ Adams combined for the other 11 points in the quarter.
Fairborn’s Shaunn Monroe scored from the right baseline, and Brandon Easterling hit a pair of free throws, in the final 48 seconds of the half to close the gap a bit, but Xenia was still in command, 37-26, at the break.
“After the way they handled us at their place the first time (Fairborn won 67-51 on Dec. 23), I’m really happy for Kobe (Hughlett), Teandre’ (Adams), especially Brandon Love, Ricky Williams on his last game on that court …” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “And Brandon Love, what a ball game for him. Fifteen points in the first half. He just caught fire for us, to help us extend and get out to a lead. We needed every bit of that lead, with the way we shot free throws in the fourth quarter.”
Anderson was referring to the Bucs’ bad bounces from the free-throw line. According to the coach, Xenia (15-7, 9-5 Greater Western Ohio Conference, American South) hit just six of 13 free throw opportunities in the fourth quarter. A pair of Adams three-pointers made up for some of those misses, but it still enabled Fairborn to keep chipping away at Xenia’s lead.
“We battled back and got to within one point of them in the second half (46-45 with 7:12 left in the fourth). I liked a lot of things that we saw from our guys. We needed players to step-up tonight, and at sometimes they did, at other times we didn’t, but I thought we took the right steps in getting us prepared for the tournament,” Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said.
Both teams needed someone to step up, in place of their teams’ top shooters respectively.
Fairborn’s Brandon Lilley was not cleared to play Friday by the athletic training staff. Chivington said he hoped to have his leading scorer (16.3 points per game) back in time for the team’s 8 p.m. Feb. 24 Division I sectional tournament opener against Troy. That left guys like Easterling (game-high 22 points), Jacob Webb (16) and Shaunn Monroe (nine points) to do what they could to pick up the scoring.
On the other side, the Skyhawks (12-10, 9-5 GWOC American South) often double-teamed the conference’s leading scorer, Samari Curtis, who finished with his lowest points total of the season — 12 points. That meant Bucs like Love (17 points), Hughlett (16), Adams (nine) and Ricky Williams (eight) had to do their best to pick up their teammate.
After the game, seniors Adams of Xenia and Fairborn’s Easterling offered each other a congratulatory hug.
“In the grand scheme of things, tonight’s game didn’t win us a championship, and it didn’t lose us a championship,” Chivington said. “It was just a fun rivalry game. Xenia played the better game tonight. Hopefully, we’ll get to see each other again in the postseason, but we can’t overlook Troy and they can’t overlook Fairmont.
“From here on out it’s one game at a time.”
That’s right: Should Fairborn win its Feb. 24 opener over Troy, and should Xenia upend Kettering Fairmont at 6:30 p.m. that same day, the two Greene County foes will meet up again in the second round. (Both Xenia’s and Fairborn’s first-round games are scheduled to be played at Trotwood-Madison High School.)
That potential second-round game would take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Centerville High School.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.