XENIA — After leading by as much as 24 in the first half, Xenia saw it evaporate quickly in front of them in the second.
A 20-4 run spanning both the third and fourth quarters gave Piqua its first lead of the game with 3:39 remaining and they never relinquished it on the way to a 69-66 comeback victory Friday in Xenia.
“It’s one of those nights we just kept going in the wrong direction,” Xenia head coach Mike Arlinghaus said. “We weren’t playing together anywhere near the way we did in the first half.”
Xenia led 47-27 early in the third quarter after holding a 19-point lead at halftime. Piqua went on a 9-0 run to start its comeback before Damien Weaver and Nate Fellie stopped the bleeding with a pair of baskets and pushed the Xenia lead back to 14 late in the third.
Piqua was able to close the quarter with what amounted to a four-point play in the final 1.1 seconds on a free throw followed by a buzzer beating three-pointer off a steal, and used the momentum from it to score the first seven of the fourth quarter.
The Indians’ defense fueled its offense through turnovers, along with forcing Xenia to only shoot from the outside, as it continue to whittle away at its deficit and eventually take the lead on a driving basket by Roberts.
“There were a couple points where we had a chance to extend the lead in the second half, but couldn’t match it,” Arlinghaus said.
Weaver got Xenia back on the scoreboard by scoring seven of his team’s final nine down the stretch. Trailing by two with 3.6 seconds left, Piqua missed a free throw and Xenia grabbed the rebound to get a final chance, but a pass up the court was tipped away and corralled by Piqua to secure the win.
“We just didn’t slow any momentum down,” Arlinghaus said. “Handful of shots just didn’t go in here and there. … We just had a handful of mistakes and it just snowballed.”
Dre’Sean Roberts had 34 points to lead the Piqua comeback.
Offensive rebounding gave Xenia numerous second chances around the basket in the opening quarter and Bucs were able to use it to their advantage.
Xenia jumped out to a 10-0 lead midway through the quarter and had 19 total shot attempts in the eight minute period to lead by 16 after the first.
“First half we played together a had a lot of unselfishness and positive energy,” Arlinghaus said. “Second half [Piqua] came out with a ton of energy and they just played harder.”
Kellan Starks did the primary damage en route to 19 first half points, with 22 total in the game to lead the Bucs.
The Bucs were 14-25 inside the arc for the game, but were held to only eight attempts in the second half as Piqua tried to not allow easy basket chances.
Weaver scored 17 for Xenia, while Joey Dawson and Fellie both had nine.
Xenia held a dedication ceremony prior to the game to officially rename its gym the Phil Anderson Gymnasium. The 2022 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees were also recognized before the game.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.