By Scott Halasz
TROY — The Xenia Buccaneers had several small victories Saturday despite a 66-36 loss to New Carlisle Tecumseh in a Division I sectional girls basketball tournament game at Troy.
— After a 48-point loss to the Arrows in early December, Xenia closed the gap by a considerable margin.
— The scrappy Bucs held the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division champs 10 points below their season average.
— Xenia took an early lead and forced the No. 5 seed to call a timeout, which was one of the Bucs’ top priorities.
But in the end, fifth-seeded Tecumseh had too much firepower for the young Bucs, who trailed 23-10 after the first quarter and 44-18 at halftime.
“I’m about as pleased as you can be with a 30-point loss to a good team,” Coach Kyle Gray said afterward.
Tecumseh’s Lindsey Nartker scored a game-high 24 points. At one point she had as many points as Xenia (5-18). Corinne Thomas and Danielle Franklin each added 15 for the Arrows (20-3), who will take on Kettering Fairmont in the next round.
Bre Burnette, Jada Wallace and Cora Stevens each had eight points, while Ella Welsh had six, Trinity Morton four and Ahzjai Files two.
Xenia, seeded 16th, hung with Tecumseh for much of the first quarter, taking a 4-3 lead after a Burnette jumper with 6:31 left and then a 6-3 lead after a Wallace rebound bucket with 5:51 left. Minutes later, a Wallace jumper gave Xenia an 8-5 lead, but Tecumseh responded with an 18-2 run to close the quarter.
The Arrows then flexed their muscles in the second quarter, bulldozing their way to corral missed shots and getting to the free-throw line often en route to a 44-18 halftime lead. Xenia had a plethora of open shots within 10-15 feet but could not sink them.
“We got better at times finishing,” Gray said. “(But) we have to get stronger. We have to get better. We have to get more skilled.”
Xenia started just two seniors and has a good nucleus returning. Gray was pleased with how his seniors played in their last game, and this season in general.
“They all played a role for us,” he said. “I was happy for the senior class.”
The seniors are Burnette, Files, Star Giles, Lizzy Abbott and Tarah Crawford.