XENIA — The host Xenia Buccaneers keep getting closer and closer to earning that elusive first win of the girls high school basketball season.
This time, they came within 38.7 seconds of it.
That’s right when St. Paris Graham sophomore Lexi King drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Falcons the lead for good, 41-39, in a hard-fought Jan. 3 battle at Xenia High School.
“Lexi was probably our third option on that play,” Graham coach Randy Tyler explained. “That time, we were very patient and got the look that we wanted.”
Xenia had one last try at regaining the lead, but an inside miss, then two missed threes followed by a foul, gave the ball back to Graham with 4.1 ticks still on the game clock.
Abby Henkle missed her first free throw try, but a Xenia lane violation enabled her to get another shot. Henkle then sank the next free throw for the game’s final 42-39 margin.
The host Buccaneers set up the late-game excitement after grabbing Xenia’s first lead of the game, 26-25, on a pair of Kamea Baker free throws with 0.2 seconds left in the third quarter. Xenia’s Brynna Mardis scored from the right baseline, Baker converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and Alashia Adams drained a jump shot from the left side to enable the Bucs to open up the fourth quarter with a 7-2 scoring run and their biggest lead of the night, 33-27.
But King hit a jumper, two free throws and a 3-pointer, while teammate Elise Kemp scored off an offensive rebound, to pull the Falcons back to within one point, 37-36, with 2:20 yet to play.
Graham reserve player Whaley grabbed a rebound of Arial Cupps’ missed free throw with 1:10 remaining, and scored to give the Falcons a 38-37 lead, but Xenia’s Adams responded by getting a steal, driving to the basket and getting fouled with 51.9 seconds left to play. Adams drained both free throw tries to put Xenia out in front 39-38, when King ended Xenia’s hopes of a first win on Graham’s next possession.
“What I love about these girls is that they fight for the whole 32 minutes,” Xenia coach Jamie Hand said. “I love that about them, but that’s what makes a loss like this a little painful tonight. When you play that hard, it would be nice to get the result you want.
“We talked about that at halftime. We knew that if our shots started to fall and we grabbed a few more rebounds, that we’d be right there in the game.”
Hand said Adams, Xenia’s lone senior, played a good game. Adams led Xenia with 15 points scored, and had several key steals as well. Twelve of her total came in the second half. Baker finished with nine points, and five of those came in the second half as well.
“And Reagan Wakefield did a great job of rebounding for us tonight, as well. It seemed like she had 547 rebounds for us tonight,” Hand laughed. “She played really well.”
Xenia gets back into action at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5 when they’ll host Sidney.
Graham (2-9) was led by King’s 16 points, Cupps was next with eight points and Katelyn Nash added seven. Graham also returns to play on Saturday. The Falcons will host Benjamin Logan for a 2:30 p.m. Central Buckeye Conference game.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.