By John Bombatch
XENIA — Solid rebounding, a stingy defense, a bit of nostalgia and some football blocking dummies helped earn the Xenia HIgh girls basketball team its first win, 66-40 over West Carrollton, Saturday, at the historic Benner Field House.
Xenia coach Kyle Gray had scouted West Carrollton a few days prior to Saturday’s throwback matchup at the former basketball home of the Buccaneers. He said he knew his then-winless team could cause the Pirates some trouble defensively, and felt that rebounds would be a key as well.
“We wanted to get more physical, so earlier this week we got out the football pads,” Gray said. “I’d like to thank the students who took the time to push us around with those pads. We were gonna learn how to box out, one way or the other. And I saw that aggressiveness take over during this game.”
Xenia hauled down 33 offensive rebounds, 51 in all, to dominate the boards against West Carrollton. The Buccaneers also took advantage of 19 Pirate turnovers. But the biggest thing that led to the team’s first win of the season may have been an 18-0 scoring binge to start the second quarter.
Already out in front 19-7 after one quarter, Xenia’s Trinity Morton-Nooks canned a 3-pointer from off the right wing to start the second. Almost five minutes later, after a series of scores from Morton-Nooks, Astella Welsh, and Charlie Stone, the Bucs were now out in front by 30 points (37-7) and in command of the game.
Morton-Nooks led all scorers with 25 points scored, to go with her eight rebounds. Welsh scored 10 points, dished out seven assists and snared nine rebounds, while Victoria Rady (eight rebounds) and Stone (seven boards) also scored 10 points each.
Jada Wallace scored four points, but led Xenia in rebounding with 10.
West Carrollton’s Kyisa Champaco was the only Pirate player to get into double-figure scoring, finishing with 10.
Gray said his team’s previously winless record may have been misleading. According to the coach, Xenia’s opponents have opened up the season with a combined 33-4 record.
“We’ve been playing some good teams, and we’ve been going down fighting and showing some fight,” Gray said. “We’ve been struggling to score. So after scouting them (during West Carrollton’s Dec. 14 home loss to Fairborn), we decided that our best way to score was to use our defense to turn into our offense.
“We pressured them and scored off of their mistakes, and we rebounded really well tonight.”
Xenia (1-7, 1-1 Greater Western Ohio Conference, American South) had a nonleague tussle with Dayton Belmont scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday on the Bisons’ floor. They’ll then host GWOC American South rival Fairborn at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21 at Xenia High School.
West Carrollton is now 1-7 overall, 1-2 in the GWOC American South.
The teams played Saturday’s game at the Carl H. Benner Field House, former site of Xenia Central High School. The smaller arena had been the home court for the Xenia Buccaneers from 1939 to 1977.
Gray said that, despite Saturday’s win, he is not undefeated on the Benner court, noting he’d coached a Xenia team to a loss against Beavercreek at Benner back in the late 1990s.
“It feels a lot better winning here, I can say that,” he laughed.