FAIRBORN — Like pretty much every high school basketball team’s senior class, the Fairborn seniors had made it a goal to win their final home game in the Baker Memorial Gym. But as an added bonus, the Class of 2018 became the first group of seniors in five years to sweep rival Xenia in a season.
The Skyhawks (9-13, 8-6 GWOC American South) also clinched sole possession of second place in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s American South division with the win.
The last time a Fairborn team had won both meetings against Xenia in a single season, it happened during the 2013-‘14 season.
Fairborn had inched out to a 15-12 lead after eight minutes of play. The Skyhawks then closed out the first half with an 8-0 run — on three-pointers from Shaunn Monroe and Tylen Eatman, and a rebound putback by senior Tarik Yagmurkaya — for a 27-18 lead at the break.
Visiting Xenia (11-11, 7-7 GWOC South) still managed to keep the lead within single digits after three quarters of play, trailing 33-41, but Fairborn extended its lead to 17 points (59-42) with 3:29 left to play to take control of the contest.
Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said his team relished the chance to play in a packed house against a friendly rival. He joked that the fans were really all there for the youth cheerleading performance at halftime.
“It was good to have that environment. That was a lot of fun,” Chivington said. “You always want to win in your final game on your court, and these Seniors really wanted that tonight. They put the blood, sweat and energy into this season, and they definitely had this as a goal of winning their final home game.”
Monroe led all scorers with 27 points scored, Yagmurkaya finished with a season-best and career-best 12 points scored, and Jarod Bodekor tossed in seven. Seniors K.J. Redmon and Jordan Greene scored six and four points respectively in their final home game.
Chivington was even able to get senior Wesley Watts into the game, even though he was still recovering from a knee injury. Watts stayed a few feet from the Skyhawks bench and lobbed a few three-point tries in the game’s final seconds.
“For (Xenia coach Kent Anderson) to allow us to do that late in the game, that says a lot about him as a coach. I appreciated that a lot for letting us have that opportunity for Wes,” Chivington said. “It’s a friendly rival, and it’s special that Wes got to step onto the court there at the end.”
In just his third game back after missing time with an ankle injury, senior Meechi Harris led Xenia with 17 points scored after being held scoreless in the first half. Fellow senior Jay Evans knocked in nine points for the Buccaneers, and Norde’ Uloho finished with eight.
Anderson was disappointed in his team’s ability to control the ball.
“It’s simple. We had 21 turnovers and we missed 15 shots at the rim,” he said. “Aside from the other things we didn’t do well, in terms of defending — with our defensive breakdowns and not talking — you turn the ball over 21 times … and you miss 15 shots at the rim, too? Even if you make half of those shots, there’s 16 points and that’s a difference in the ball game.
“If we don’t take care of those two things, it’s gonna be a short run in the tournament.”
Both teams begin tournament play next week. Xenia enters the postseason as a No. 10 seed and will take on No. 6 Fairmont, a team that beat the Bucs just before the Christmas break in the Benner Field House. That opening round tournament game is set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Trotwood-Madison High School.
Fairborn is a No. 14 seed in the Division I sectional tourney. The Skyhawks are scheduled for a first-round matchup with No. 13-seed Northmont at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.