Xenia upset bid comes up short in overtime loss


XENIA — Coming out of the final timeout, Xenia ran its last play exactly how it wanted.

The ball continued to not fall the way the Bucs have hoped this season.

Trailing by three, a last second attempt to tie the score bounced off the back of the rim and didn’t leave enough time for a second chance to end a spirited upset effort by the Bucs in a 62-59 overtime loss Tuesday to Butler at home.

With 6.6 seconds left, Juan Underwood pushed the ball the length of the floor and drove toward the basket before kicking out to Trimonde Henry at the right wing. Henry, who lead Xenia with 18 points, quickly got the shot up and over two charging Butler defenders with ease, but just had to much behind his shot as the ball rolled around the rim and back out into play.

“We anticipated them fouling us,” Xenia head coach Jason Caudill said. “I basically tried to design something that the kids, to their credit, ran exactly like we wanted. We actually had Gavin [McManus] trailing as well, so we had two good looks and the ball just went in and out and didn’t work for us tonight.”

It has been that type of season for Xenia. The Bucs, now 4-15 overall, already had three 1-point defeats, including the first meeting with Butler on Dec. 22. Other close calls have seen the team let leads slip away.

They all go down as losses just the same, but Caudill said the character of the team has shown up when he sees his players continuing to put itself in position to potentially win each night.

“They have the same work habit and practice and in games, and I think it says a lot about them and who they are,” he said. “They work hard, most are football players and know how to work. It just hasn’t bounced our way this year.”

Xenia had its best chance at an upset after leading Butler (10-7) for most of the fourth quarter.

Butler had built a 11-point lead midway through the third before a pair threes by McManus got the Bucs back within three heading to the fourth.

Another make from deep led off the quarter and Henry hit one shortly after to put Xenia ahead with 5:03 remaining. Butler briefly grabbed the lead again at 51-49 until Alijah Withers got his own rebound following a missed free throw and made a layup to tie things up heading into the final minute.

Xenia had a chance to win at the end of regulation on an inbounds underneath Butler’s basket. Withers cut to the basket but had his shot blocked which led to Butler getting a chance in transition, but a contested layup bounced short and led to the overtime period.

“We had our chances,” Caudill said. “When you’re trying to fight for a win, that’s all you ask for as a coach is just to get there to the end and try and find a way to win. Unfortunately that ball didn’t bounce for us the right way.”

McManus had 14 points for Xenia, and Cayden Jenkins scored nine. Butler was led by a pair of 20-point games by Julius Rusk and T. J. Green.

The Aviators shot 15-for-27 from the free throw line, including seven makes in overtime. Xenia connected on nine shots from three thoroughout the game.

Xenia’s reserve team won its 15th game of the season earlier in the night, and its freshman squad stayed within one-possession of Butler’s unbeaten team into the final minute but couldn’t get the win.

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.

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