By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — The only lengthy scoring run by either team proved to be the difference in Friday’s season opening boys high school basketball game between the host Beavercreek Beavers and the visiting Xenia Buccaneers.
With six minutes left in the game, Beavercreek went on a 7-0 run to break a 29-29 tie, and outscored Xenia 18-4 in the entire fourth fourth quarter, to claim a 47-32 win.
Six-foot-6 junior forward Jon Alessandro scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in that final quarter.
Beavercreek coach Mark Hess said he’d been preparing for Xenia standout Samari Curtis, only to learn that the sophomore guard (13.4 points-per-game average last season) would sit out with a hand injury.
“I think it took us a little bit more time to adjust to that a bit,” Hess said. “And they were banged up, but I’ll tell you what, those guys battled. They were a little undermanned, but they played hard. I just think at the end, they might’ve run out of gas.
“In that fourth quarter, we finally played to win.”
Joining Alessandro in scoring for Beavercreek were fellow starters Cedric Baldwin, Kenneth Jordan “K.J.” Williams and Ian Whitlow who scored six points each, Jordan Williams added four points, Evan Saylor came off the bench to score three points, and Adam Graeter added a point for the Beavers (1-0), who will host West Carrollton on Tuesday.
“For three and a half quarters, I felt pretty good about our effort, and our execution was very good at times,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “But we came up short in three places: One, they went on an 18-3 run in the final three minutes of the game. (Two), we cannot have the number of turnovers that we had tonight an expect to win a basketball game, (and Three), I think we were 5-for-14 from the foul line. If you take the combination of those three things, I don’t care who we’re playing, you’re just not going to win very many ball games.”
After unofficially committing 15 turnovers in the first half, Xenia gave up six the rest of the way. Beavercreek showed a bit of first-game jitters as well. The Beavers turned the ball over 17 times in the sloppy first half, then just six in the second half.
“Talking about a sloppy season opening win is a lot better than talking about a loss. We’ll take it,” Hess said.
Xenia’s Curtis was out with his hand injury, senior Kobe Hughlett had his thumb in a cast, and sophomore Corey Burnette didn’t play due to a pair of personal fouls he’d been flagged for in the Week 10 football game against Fairborn. But even without those three Bucs, Xenia was close until that crucial fourth quarter.
Ricky Williams assumed the dual role of point guard and go-to scorer, finishing with a team-high 13 points. Brandon Love and Meechi Harris each scored six points, Te’Andre Adams and Onoriode Uloho added three points each, and Jay Evans hit a free throw in the loss.
Xenia is back in action Tuesday as well. They’ll host Dayton Meadowdale for the Bucs’ home opener at 7:30 p.m.