XENIA — In a shooting clinic between two of the top junior guards in Ohio, it might’ve been a dose of late-game teamwork that earned host Xenia a 73-67 win over Sidney, Dec. 5 in The Blue Pit at Xenia High.
Sidney’s Andre Gordon and Xenia’s Samari Curtis are both ranked high by most recruiting services as they begin their junior years. They showed just why in Tuesday night’s game.
Gordon finished with a game-high 37 points while Curtis finished with 31.
Heading down the stretch, with Xenia out in front 57-55 with less than four minutes left to play, Gordon accounted for eight of Sidney’s final 12 points.
Curtis also knocked in 10 points during that span, but he dished off assists to teammates Meechi Harris and Norde’ Uloho as well, and Corey Burnette also scooted in for a driving score. Xenia outscored Sidney, 18-12, to seal the win.
After back-to back showcase losses — first to Cincinnati Princeton, then to Columbus Africentric — Xenia was making its home debut. Buccaneers coach Kent Anderson said it was good to be back home, and that his players kept a positive attitude in practice after those losses.
“To defeat a talented veteran team like Sidney, and to see those two heavyweights go at it like they did, this was an exciting game,” Anderson said. “Gordon made some unbelievably contested buckets. Samari wanted to guard him at the end, and (Gordon) hung in the air, and double-pumped and finished up. It was pretty darn impressive.”
To go along with Curtis’s 31, senior Jay Evans finished with 11 (all in the first half), Harris scored 10 (all in the second half), Uloho had eight second-half points and Burnette finished with seven. Ronnie Molitor finished with five points, and R.J. Hunter hit a free throw.
Curtis drained 10 of 11 freethrows for the game. He didn’t miss a free throw in the second half, going 6-for-6.
Sidney was playing its first game of the season, and coach John Willoughby said his team might’ve shown some rust.
“I think this being our first game, to their third, that was a big thing tonight,” he said. “We just didn’t seem organized. We couldn’t get into our system like we should, that’s a little frustrating. We couldn’t change up our defenses — guys weren’t getting out to where we wanted to pick up their players. Coachingwise, we just haven’t been able to get them prepared for those things.”
Gordon hit six 3-pointers and drained 5-of-8 free throws as part of his game-best 37. Ratez Roberts was the other Yellow Jacket in double figures with 14 points.
Sidney doesn’t have much time to shake the rust off. They play a 7:30 p.m. contest at Tippecanoe on Friday, Dec. 8, then turn around and go to Wapakoneta for another 7:30 p.m. battle the next day.
Xenia is back home for its next contest. The school will recognize its 2017 Athletic Hall of Fame induction class of David Adkins, Mike Anderson, Peanut Bottorff, John Cowens, Terry Hedges, Tom Hudson, Skip Smith, Paul Storey, Mark Wingard and members of the 1965 XHS cross country team during Friday’s Dec. 8 home game against Stebbins.
“It’ll be exciting to welcome in the Hall of Famers on Friday, and Stebbins is much improved,” Anderson said. “So we’ll have another good battle then as well.”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.