By John Bombatch
VANDALIA — With his fifth seeded Xenia Buccaneers playing after a seven-day layoff and heading into the first round of the Division I sectional tournament against an upset-minded Troy team, coach Kent Anderson’s team could’ve misfired and sputtered all over Butler High School’s court.
But instead, Danny Naylor nonchalantly drained a pair of 3-point shots and it was as though Xenia had never turned the team’s collective engine off. Xenia forced Troy into 25 turnovers and the Bucs rolled to a convincing 88-60 win, Friday night at Butler’s Student Activity Center.
“I thought the key was our second-quarter defense that let us get out and run the floor a little bit,” Anderson said during a post-game radio interview. “We got to the rim, and quit living and dying from the 3-point line like we did early on … The worst thing to happen for us was for Danny to come out and hit two threes, because then we think we’re hot and we’re all just going to start jacking up threes.
“The way we played defense in the second quarter, and at times in the third, I thought was pretty special. This was a good first-round win for us.”
Rocky James finished with a game-high 21 points, Ray James scored 19, Samari Curtis finished with a dozen points, Ricky Williams added nine points and Naylor finished with eight to up Xenia’s record to 18-5.
Troy’s 6-foot-8 center Mechia Linton was able to mop up some errant Trojan shots underneath to score 15 points. Trojan senior guard Romelio Yaqub scored 16 points in the second half and finished with a team-high 19 points in the loss.Yaqub, Linton, Estevan Stafford, Austin Persinger, Demarcus Moody, Trey Bucio and Austin Funderberg all played their final games for Troy (8-15), the tournament’s no. 17 seed.
“We turned the ball over too much and (Xenia) converted the other way on runouts. I mean, we scored 60 points in the game, but we turned it over 30-plus times. … We just needed to take better care of the ball. That was the whole story,” Troy coach Paul Bremigan said.
With Friday’s win, Xenia will now play the winner of Friday night’s late game which was between sixth-seeded Sidney and eight seed New Carlisle Tecumseh. That game will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Butler High School’s Student Activity Center.
TOURNAMENT TICKETS ON SALE: Xenia Athletic Director Mark Stoll was already selling tickets to Xenia’s next game on Friday night. Tickets will also be available for purchase from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in the Xenia High School main office as well as the athletic office.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.