XENIA — Cool. Calm. Collected.
That pretty much sums up the Fairborn Skyhawks boys basketball team these days. If one player doesn’t pick up the team, it’s pretty certain someone else will.
On this snowy night, a packed gymnasium watched visiting Fairborn coolly roll away to a 63-55 win over the host Xenia Buccaneers. Where Jordan Michael is usually the team’s leading scorer, tonight was Malik Jacobs’ night to shine.
And shine he did.
Jacobs scored a game-high 23 points to go with a game-high 11 rebounds to lead Fairborn. Branden Lilley finished with 15 and Michael added 11 for the Skyhawks, but it was Jacobs’ night.
“He was the key tonight,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “We know what he is, we know what he can do, but we just didn’t do much to stop him. We didn’t defend very well, didn’t shoot very well, didn’t rebound very well, we just didn’t do anything very well tonight.”
Jacobs was scoreless after the first quarter of play, but Fairborn (14-7, 8-2 Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division) still managed to stay within two points of the lead. They trailed Xenia by a 14-12 count at that point.
The 6-foot-3 senior forward exploded for 11 points in the second quarter, and that set him well on his scoring way. Jacobs said he never worried during his first-quarter dry spell.
“We’re just an unselfish team. We know that whomever comes up with the hot hand, we feed them the ball. We play team ball. Team defense. We get that extra pass and find guys open, that’s all we are,” Jacobs said. “As long as we’re winning, I don’t have a problem with not scoring.”
Xenia (8-13, 4-5 GWOC South) led 9-4 in the early going, thanks to scores by Brent Bauer, Clayton Kadel and Bobo Jones. But scores by Lilley and Michael pulled Fairborn in front 11-9 with 2:35 left in the opening quarter. A Kadel 3-pointer from the right side made it 14-12 after one.
Lilley drained a three from the left corner to put Fairborn up 15-14, then Jacobs took over the quarter. Fairborn’s next 11 points of the quarter were scored by Jacobs, and Xenia never got closer than four points of the lead from that point on.
Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said his team is now reaping the rewards of lessons learned earlier this season.
“We went through some tough situations where you’re in a close game, how do you finish it out? That’s what these guys have learned. They’ve learned some lessons through losses or from foul troubles. Tonight, these guys just settled in and knew what was going to come.
“We knew Xenia was going to come at us with a lot of pressure, but we knew we had to withstand their attack, and we did that. The leadership from the upper classmen, and now even the underclassmen, they’re all going with the attitude that ‘We got this.’”
They got a win as a result.
Fairborn has now won seven straight and nine of their last 10. The Skyhawks will host Dayton Meadowdale at 7:30 p.m. today.
Xenia has lost its last five games. They will close out the regular season with a make-up game against Springboro. That game is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Xenia High.