By John Bombatch
XENIA — Matched up against a West Carrollton team that had only won two games all season, coach Kent Anderson gave his Xenia Buccaneers a series of goals to try to attain in Friday’s game.
The 101-70 thumping of the Pirates had nothing to do with running up the score. It had everything to do with accomplishing team goals of scoring, rebounding and playing defense, and it was a chance for the Bucs to make a statement prior to this week’s tournament seeding vote.
Five Xenia players finished in double-figure scoring, with Rocky James leading the way with a game-high 21 (including two jarring dunks). Brandon Love came off the bench to score 18 points, Ray James and Samari Curtis scored 16 points each and Danny Naylor dumped in 11 to up Xenia’s record to 15-3 overall, 6-1 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s South Division.
“The goal for the first half was to come out focused and to do a better job on the boards,” Anderson explained. “They beat us on the boards when we played down at their place and won (87-47 on Dec. 18, 2015). We wanted to be focused. Just do what we do, play good defense, attack the rim — which I thought we did pretty well in the first half.”
Anderson credited Ray James’ play at point guard for playing solid defense at one end of the court, and setting up scoring options for his teammates at the other.
“In the first half, for us to put up 55 points and only give up 23, that was a terrific effort by our kids,” Anderson said. “The second half, with all the substitutions we had going on, I think we lost our focus a bit. … But I don’t care if you’re our number one player or if you’re the 12th guy, you’ve got to stay focused and play good defense. That’s the only problem I had with today’s game. We lost a bit of our focus.”
The 101 points scored was Xenia’s most points scored in a game this season. Their previous highs had been 91 points scored in home wins over New Paris Graham (Dec. 15) and Kettering Fairmont (Jan. 12).
The last time a Xenia Buccaneer boys team surpassed the century mark was in Dec. 18, 2012 when Xenia defeated Dayton Ponitz, 104-55.
West Carrollton (2-16, 0-7 GWOC South) trailed 31-10 after one quarter of play. But the Pirates scored 47 points against Xenia’s constantly subbed lineup in the second half.
Chad Holland and Ruben Maull each finished with 13 points, while Josh Van Scyoc and Tylan King scored nine each.
Anderson hopes the multiple substitutions will have his entire team fresh for Friday’s big GWOC South matchup when first-place Springboro (15-3, 7-0 GWOC South) battles the second-place Bucs. Springboro claimed a 61-54 win at their place on Jan. 8.
“We’re only going for an hour tomorrow, and then we have a college signing ceremony — Rocky James, Naylor and Ryan Johnson are all signing to play football at St. Francis (Ind.) University. We’ll go short tomorrow, we’ll go short and focused on Thursday. Then hopefully we’ll play our best ball on Friday.
With a share of the GWOC South title potentially at stake, tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Xenia High.