Tuesday night in the Xenia High School gym known as the Blue Pit we witnessed the rebirth of two once-storied girls basketball programs.
That Xenia beat Fairborn, 71-53, is not really relevant. That the teams are a combined 1-5 is immaterial. What matters is what was displayed on the court by both teams.
At times in the past those were missing from the Buccaneers and Skyhawks. Not all of them at the same time. Not every season. Not every player.
But it’s fair to say the last several years have been a struggle for the programs. This is not an indictment of previous coaches, especially Xenia’s Kyle Gray — who had two stints as coach — and Fairborn boys coach Billy Harchick, who was the girls coach until the boys job opened.
But facts are facts.
We have to go all the way back to 2015 to find the last winning record between the two teams. That’s when Fairborn went 14-10, the last of seven straight winning seasons, several of which featured current Coach Brooklyn (Pumroy) Summitt.
Xenia’s last winning record came in 2010 when it went 17-7 overall, the last of a string of winning seasons for the Bucs. Fairborn was 18-4 that year and won the Greater Western Ohio Conference South Division.
Based on Tuesday’s performance by the teams — and I’ve seen them play enough in my tenure at Greene County News to at least think I know what I’m talking about — there won’t be that long of a gap between winning seasons again.
Summitt and Xenia Coach Jessica Threats — both in their second years — have the players’ attention and have their programs trending up.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s way too early in the season for such a bold statement.
But facts are facts.
You can see a difference this season. You can see this is a team that wants so badly to succeed. And as Threats told me after the game, her players are hungry. They worked hard in the off-season — even during the COVID off-season when they could — and have bought in to what Threats is trying to do. I’m not shocked because she is doing the same with the Xenia volleyball team.
In Fairborn, the players appear to be all-in on Summitt’s plans. She’s going to build a program from the ground up, much like her mother-in-law, the late, great Pat Summitt did with the University of Tennessee women’s basketball program. Brooklyn doesn’t display the Summitt Stare that Pat made famous, but she’s every bit as demanding.
And that’s a good thing.
Threats has a solid nucleus of sophomores with Kendall Sherman, Amarie Withers, and Bri Randall, who don’t play like underclassmen. Seniors Reaghan Wakefield and Kamea Baker provide experience, as does junior Mya Dyamond. In all, there are nine freshmen and sophomores on the roster.
The Skyhawks are also leaning on underclassmen including Freshman Isabella Dunwiddie, and sophomore Nakiah Dunman — who have started every game — and freshmen Ava Williams and Talia Smalls, who have played in all three games. Seniors Cassidy Mustard, and Jodee Austin, along with junior Makayla Beilharz, return from last season, helping provide experience and leadership.
It’s a perfect mix.
Summitt acknowledged it’s going to take time as the players learn the system. And Threats knows it won’t happen overnight as well.
There will be many ups and downs.
But like coaches love to say, as long as the players continue to trust the system and the process, the wins will take care of themselves.
And I have a feeling there will be many in the future.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.