XENIA — Xenia coach Kent Anderson didn’t go in to the details of what he had to say to his Buccaneers players at halftime of Friday’s Jan. 11 high school basketball game with visiting Piqua. Chances are, we probably couldn’t print those words anyhow.
Whatever he did say to the team, they listened.
Down by seven points at halftime, Xenia outscored the Indians by a 56-35 margin in the second half to claim an 85-71 win.
“Piqua was chasing after loose balls and just seemed to want it more than we did, in that first half,” Anderson said. “It’s about time that we woke up. … I know we outscored them 28-12 in that third quarter, and that was really the quarter that helped us turn things around. But to score 56 points in the second half like that, geez-o-Pete. That’s nice to see.”
Xenia’s Samari Curtis scored 28 of his game-high 41 points in the second half, and Dylan Hoosier had a solid game with 22 points of his own. Jate Bradley, Zack Gaither, Isaiah Hoyt, Noah Crawford, Johnzel Gray and Gavin Gerhardt combined for the other 22.
Anderson said he merely encouraged his bunch to be more aggressive in the second half.
“We were just getting out-hustled for everything. Loose balls, rebounds, we weren’t moving on offense,” he said. “We were so much more tough minded in that second half, and that showed how capable we are of playing. Now defensively, we’ve still got some things to work out. But in terms of just being tough at the rim, and finishing and getting some things done, we did a lot better in the second half.”
Whenever it seemed that Piqua could possibly grab a double-digit lead in the first half, Xenia would spark a mini to help keep things close. The Indians led by seven points (18-11) with just over a minute left in the opening quarter, but Curtis canned a jumper with 35. 6 seconds to go in the quarter, then hit a pair of free throws with 11.8 to go in the first, to pull Xenia to within 18-15 after one period of play.
Micah Karn’s jump shot with 3:39 left in the first half put Piqua out in front 28-20, but Hoosier hit a pair of free throws two seconds later, drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:18 left in the half, then hit two more free throws with 1:57 to go, to pull the Buccaneers back to within one point, 28-27.
Then, Piqua closed out the first half with an 8-2 run to lead 36-29 at the break.
Curtis and Hoosier combined for a 6-0 run to start the second half, then Xenia grabbed its first lead of the contest when Hoyt snared an offensive rebound off a Curtis missed trey and scored with 5:52 left in the third.
Piqua had three players finish in double-figure scoring: Zach Tillman and Qurri Tucker each finished the night with 16 points, and Garrett Schrubb was next with 13.
Piqua is now 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s North division. They are scheduled to host a non-league game with Elida at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12 in Piqua, weather permitting.
Xenia (6-5, 4-3 GWOC East) had its next scheduled game moved up a day. The Bucs’ contest at Greenville has been moved up a day to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.
The Green Wave very sportingly accommodated Xenia’s request to have Friday off before the Buccaneer’s scheduled Flyin’ to the Hoop showcase game, which is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 against First Love Christian Academy of Washington, Pa.
“Fans can still buy tickets for the Flyin’ to the Hoop contest,” Anderson said. “They sell for $18 dollars and are good for the entire day’s games. They’re available at the High School Athletic Department, but hurry. They’re going fast.”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.