By John Bombatch
XENIA — The Xenia Buccaneers came up with their ninth different lineup in nine games, and they still found a complete team effort to hold off Tipp City Tippecanoe, 55-51, Friday night at Xenia High School.
Similar to how the Bucs responded to every scoring charge in their home win over Lebanon on Tuesday, Xenia had to respond to several Red Devil runs.
Despite the Red Devils trailing by as much as 12 points in the first half, Tippecanoe’s Josh Wildermuth drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the game up at 42-all after three quarters of play.
Xenia’s Ricky Williams and Brandon Love both converted two-point scores on Xenia’s next two possessions and the Bucs never fell behind or were tied again.
Bucs coach Kent Anderson dragged senior wingman Ricky Williams upstairs with him to talk with the sportscasters at WBZI-FM 100.3 after the game.
“These guys get to be seniors and they think they’re scorers and that they don’t have to defend any more,” Anderson said, partly in jest. “But Ricky’s let me challenge him a bit this week in practice. We’ve been after him to play more defense, do this, do that. We’ve really been after him, and I think that was by far his best defensive effort of the season. That’s why I wanted to bring him up here with me.”
When he wasn’t wreaking havoc with the Tippecanoe offense, Williams was busy scoring his fair share of points, too. Williams and Kobe Hughlett each finished with 14 points to lead all scorers. Meechi Harris finished with nine points and Brandon Love tossed in eight. Te’Andre Adams and Jay Evans (three each) and Johnzel Gray and Onoriode “Norde’” Uloho (two points each) also contributed on offense.
Williams said he prides himself on how hard he works on the court.
“I had a couple of rough games. I just try to keep my head up and play as hard as I can,” he said. “The defensive game is important, and so is playing hard. … You know what? I love playing defense. It’s one of my strong points, and so I look forward to stepping up to defend whoever I have to defend.”
Tippecanoe’s Caiden Smith, who leads the Red Devils with a 14.5 points per game average, finished with three points against Xenia. Zach Bonifas (11 ppg) led the team with 13 points, and Wildermuth (9.8 ppg) finished with 12. Tipp City is now 4-6 overall, and 2-4 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American North division. The Red Devils host Springboro on Tuesday.
Xenia now has a winning record for the first time this season at 5-4 overall, and 2-3 in the GWOC American South. They have a big test in their next game. Sidney, the GWOC American North leaders (8-1, 6-0) will host Xenia at 7 p.m. Tuesday.