XENIA — Fairborn kept its poise, during an emotion-filled battle with host Xenia.
A youthful Xenia squad ‘lost it,’ then lost the game.
Saturday’s girls high school basketball battle between Miami Valley League foes Fairborn and host Xenia was determined in the third quarter. That’s when things got rough, and almost ugly.
After a perceived injury to a Xenia player led to a hard intentional foul the other way and a subsequent technical foul, Xenia’s Athletic Director was called out onto the court to calm the home fans down a bit.
Sixty four seconds and seven Skyhawks points later, Fairborn had its first double-digit lead of the game, on its way to a 53-40 road win over Xenia (4-18).
First-year Fairborn coach Brooklyn Summitt said her team had been working on staying poised and focused all season long. On Saturday, it worked.
“We’ve just been focusing on us. Don’t worry about anything else, just focus on us and keep working on getting the team better,” Summitt said. “Use each game to get better. I think we did a good job of that today.”
Fairborn (7-15) led 44-34 after three quarters of play. The Skyhawks then extended that margin by scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter. They then managed to hold that distance the rest of the way.
With 1:04 yet to play in the third quarter and Fairborn barely out in front, 37-33, Fairborn’s Natalie Oktavec was intentionally fouled. The guilty Xenia player was also whistled for a technical foul on the play, presumably for arguing the intentional foul call, and so Oktavec went to the free-throw line four consecutive times … and hit them all … for a 41-34 lead.
One of the game officials had had enough of some upset fans roughly 20 seconds later. When the smoke had cleared and tempers had subsided, Fairborn had all the lead it needed.
Oktavec led all scorers with 20 points, Jodee Austin hit three 3-pointers as part of a 13-point game, Nakiah Dunman finished with 10 points, and Khala Powell finished with eight.
“We try to put them in situations during practice where we’ll have the music up really loud, or we’ll have other players up in the stands either yelling at them or clapping really loud, just putting pressure on them in practice,” Summitt explained. “It was tough when we first started doing that, but they were learning. Today, I am so proud of them. They have gotten so much better with that.”
In the loss, Kendall Sherman and Alexis Claybaugh led the Buccaneers with 10 points each, while Amarie Withers and Kamea Baker each finished with six. Xenia coach Jessica Threats appreciated her team’s effort, but admitted that emotions may have gotten the best of her youthful team.
“Oh definitely! It’s a big rivalry game, and we’d beaten them on a buzzer beater the first time we played them, so you could sense that the tensions were high for this one,” Threats said. “And I think those emotions may have gotten the best of my younger players a bit, at times. But overall, I was really happy with the way they played today.
“They really gave it their all. It just didn’t go in our favor today.”
Nine of the 14 players on Xenia’s roster are either freshmen or sophomores.
Fairborn finished its “rained out” contest from last week, defeating Piqua by a 50-35 score on Monday.
Xenia and Fairborn begin the postseason this week. Eighteenth-seeded Xenia opens play at noon Saturday, Feb. 15 against second seed Huber Heights Wayne at Vandalia Butler High School. Fairborn is the tourney’s 17th seed. The Skyhawks take on No. 3-seed Centerville at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Troy High School.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.