XENIA — After scoring just 42 points against slow-it-down Beavercreek last season, Coach Kent Anderson knew what his Xenia team needed to do against ‘Creek Friday.
“Tempo, tempo, tempo,” an elated Anderson said after the Buccaneers ran and shot their way to a 72-58 win inside the Blue Pit. “For the past couple years we let them slow us down.”
Not this time.
After scoring just six in the first quarter and trailing by eight, Xenia went on a 15-6 run to take a 21-16 lead midway through the second quarter and cruised to a big win. Xenia took advantage of Beavercreek’s top player, Jon Alessandro, having to go to the bench with two fouls and pushed the ball up the court making myriad layups in opening a 21-16 lead.
And then Xenia’s Samari Curtis got hot.
The heavily recruited junior scored 13 straight points on four three-pointers and a free throw to give Beavercreek a 34-19 lead, which was cut to 34-22 at halftime. Curtis finished with a game-high 34 and had 20 at the break.
“Samari only needs one good look to get himself going,” Anderson said. “He got that hot hand.”
Alessandro, who scored a team high 28 points, tried to keep Beavercreek (2-7 overall, 1-4 Greater Western Ohio Conference) close. He scored 14 in the third quarter and helped the Beavers cut the lead to seven before another Curtis three-pointer increased the lead back to 10.
Down 11 after three, Alessandro scored a bucket to start the quarter, and two free throws from Evan Saylor cut it to 52-45. Curtis scored five straight for Xenia, including a near-NBA three-pointer, and then Jay Evans drained a pull-up three-pointer to increase the lead to 60-46 with 3:09 left. Meechi Harris added a couple rim-shaking dunks as the lead ballooned to 18 with a minute left.
“We were a little uncomposed (with Alessandro on the bench) and that’s when they made their run. When he’s off the court we’re a different team. And Samari got hot,” Beavercreek Coach Mark Hess said. “When he starts getting hot, he’s pretty tough to guard.”
Evans finished with 15 for Xenia (5-5 overall, 4-1 GWOC), while Harris added 12.
“We got some contribution from some other kids,” Anderson said. “They have to step up.”
Xenia closes out the year having won three of four and survived an early stretch of nine games in 23 days.
“Just happy to get a win,” Anderson said. “This is going to make the new year a lot more fun. We’re thrilled. We really are.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.