XENIA — Trailing by five points with a minute left to play, Xenia rallied with the help of a freshman and a guy who was injured for all but 58 seconds of last season for a dramatic 66-63 win over Sidney, in front of a jam-packed and rowdy crowd at Xenia High School’s Blue Pit gymnasium.
With 59.2 seconds left in the game and their beloved Buccaneers down by five, the Xenia student section broke into a chant that is used at pretty much any gym.
“I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!”
It’s usually uttered when that particular student’s section’s team is well out front and there’s no way for the other guys to come back. Sidney’s students should’ve been chanting it.
But the students were right.
First, Danny Naylor put back a teammates’ miss with 51.4 seconds to go to pull Xenia to within 63-60 of the Yellow Jackets. Naylor had a season-ending injury in the first minute of the opening game last season.
Sidney failed to score on its next possession, then Bucs freshman Samari Curtis drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie things up with 33.6 ticks left in regulation,
On Sidney’s next possession, they committed an over-and-back violation to give Xenia the ball with 23.4 seconds left to play.
And again, Naylor grabbed the rebound off a teammate’s miss. This time, the Xenia senior put the ball up from the left wing and smartly kissed the shot off the glass and in for the winning score. He was fouled during the shot, so Naylor hit the free throw to tally the final dagger in Sidney and record an exciting win.
“That was wild! It was two different games. We got out early and forced them into a ton of turnovers in the first half, but in the second half we just got beat badly on the boards. Rocky (James) and Danny (Naylor) are in there, but the need some help from the rest of the team.
“But I love our moxy in the end. We never gave up, scored the last eight points to win it. … I’m so happy for that kid. For Danny to get the rebound and put the shot up off the glass — which is the way you’re supposed to do it — I couldn’t be happier for him,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said.
Unofficially, Curtis led the Buccaneers (2-0) with 21 points, Ray James finished with 15 while Naylor and Rocky James each put in nine.
Sidney lost for the first time this season, and may be still wondering how they let Friday night’s game get away from them.
Lorenzo Taborn dominated from inside and finished with a game-high 24 points. Jackets freshman phenom Andre Gordon finished with 14.
“We didn’t execute. We didn’t finish,” Sidney coach Andy Slaughter said. “We talk about executing. We told our kids we wanted to foul as soon as Xenia got in the paint. We had a foul to give and we wanted to make them try something else to score against us. They didn’t have any timeouts left, and that’s what we wanted to do.
“Naylor came through and put one up and it bounced in. What can you do? But we didn’t take good shots at the end of the game, and we had some miscues on the defensive end that cost us tonight.”
Xenia (2-0) hits the road on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game at Dayton Belmont.
Sidney has a game tonight down in Lebanon against the 2-0 Warriors.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.