Centerville’s physicality too much for Xenia in sectional loss


VANDALIA — All of the preparation leading up to Thursday’s game for Xenia was about figuring out what the team has learned this season.

What it learned during the game is what elite level basketball is like to play against.

Centerville as the top-seed in the Southwest District’s North portion of Division I played with an unrelenting intensity throughout its 70-20 win in sectional tournament play at Butler High School.

The Elks were ranked in the top-10 for D-I teams in the final Ohio AP state poll of the regular season and have reached the state final four in each of the last three seasons. They have a top-100 recruit in the nation committed to play at Xavier University and four starters standing above 6-feet, 3-inches.

Xenia’s young and undersized squad didn’t stand much chance of winning, but appreciated the opportunity to face one of the top programs in Ohio and get in more work together as a group.

“We did a lot of skill work in between games,” head coach Jason Caudill said. “We got a couple live scrimmages between our group and it gave me a chance to look at our younger talent coming up and evaluate and see what we need to do going forward.”

The Bucs had a rough season, finishing with a 4-18 record. Three seniors were on the roster with two receiving significant playing time. Next year is potentially set up to be a more positive one with the amount of contributors able to come back.

It became the focus during the two weeks Xenia had to continue practicing as a group to figure out where it was successful this year and what the immediate needs were to evaluate.

Caudill said he was pleased with his team’s response during that time and felt it mirrored a positive game-by-game progress they made. He said he recognizes the final record isn’t great, but believes its effort has set them up for better success in upcoming year.

“People base [satisfaction] off wins and losses,” Caudill said. “And to me, it’s if I get the kids to play as hard they can. And how do we grow from there? These are great kids and to see them progress as a first-year coach, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Matchups like the one on Thursday won’t be as common starting next season. The new OHSAA divisional balance structure is likely to separate schools with such a large difference in enrollment such as Centerville and Xenia. Centerville is likely to remain in D-I while Xenia could be placed down in D-III.

While that will give the Bucs a fighting chance in tournament situations on a more regular basis, the team realistically used the extra time remaining to work on what it wanted to and hopes it helps starting next year.

“This was a learning process,” Caudill said. “And I think our young guys now have some experience going into next year and that’s big.”

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

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