XENIA — Xenia came into Friday’s rivalry game looking for a 2-0 start to the new year and emphatically got what it wanted.
The Bucs defense stifled Fairborn through the initial three quarters on its way to producing a 55-35 victory at home.
“I don’t know what it was, but we just couldn’t get the ball in the hoop,” Fairborn head coach Billy Harchick said. “We’re just in a little bit of a slump right now and hopefully that picks up.”
The win for Xenia was its fourth in six games, all coming in league play, and has been on the heels of an improved effort away from the basket.
The Bucs are averaging 57 points per game during the same stretch, which is 10 points fewer than during its 0-5 start.
“We’ve been talking about energy and collective toughness,” Xenia head coach Mike Arlinghaus said. “We emphasized a few things in practice that carried over this week. Energy and having positive body language. We wanted to be more focused on defense in practice and it’s starting to show a little bit more in the game.”
Coming off the heels of an overtime win at Butler, Xenia jumped out to an early 7-2 lead against Fairborn and continued to win each shorter stretch during the game to eventually build a 27-12 advantage at halftime.
Fairborn (0-10) only had 18 points heading into the fourth quarter before nearly doubling its total in the final eight minutes alone.
“I thought the younger kids, especially Sean Townsend and Caleb Kennehan were bright spots. Different people came in late and I thought they showed that they want to get more playing time.”
Xenia (4-7) was led by Ayden Rose with 13 points, including a trio of three-pointers. A balanced scoring effort followed with six total Bucs players scoring at least six points in the contest.
Damien Weaver, Xenia’s leading scorer, had no points until midway through the third quarter and only added a free throw afterward, but Arlinghaus noted how he remained a key contributor with his play elsewhere on the court.
“Damien is a fantastic passer and he can be too unselfish at times,” he said. “He’s really important to what we do. He wasn’t scoring, but he wasn’t out there trying to get his. He plays within the construction of the team and it was good to see him lead us.”
Fairborn’s Ty Williams scored 11 points to lead the Skyhawks in scoring. Michael Wardle and Darius Davis both added five points.
Harchick said he is continuing to look for consistency from the team on the court and hopes the group latches onto its vocal players.
“Just needing effort night in and night out,” he said. “We’re waiting for that leader to step up and get that first win.”
The Bucs are wanting to build upon a mindset on the court which Arlinghaus described as making more than great plays, but playing great overall games. It will look to continuing to do so as the team climbs back into the MVL Valley Division race.
“Those are some of the biggest things for us right now is being consistent, getting defensive efforts each possession, being in the right spot and finishing plays on both sides,” Arlinghaus said. “Those are the types of things that we can have control of and we want to go in controlling what we are able to control.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.