XENIA — In a game that featured two of the state’s best guards, Xenia came out on top 73-67 against Sidney on Tuesday.
The game, which was Sidney’s first of the season and Xenia’s home opener, was very close throughout.
Both Sidney junior Andre Gordon and Xenia junior Samari Curtis, who are ranked by among Ohio’s top prospects by several recruiting services, put on a show. Gordon scored 37 points and Curtis scored 31.
Gordon made jumper with under two minutes left to cut Xenia’s lead to 69-64. A free throw by Gordon narrowed the deficit to three points, and Sidney grabbed a rebound off a missed shot by Jay Evans and quickly worked the ball back down to its end.
Gordon missed a 3-pointer from about 30 feet out, and Xenia rebounded. Sidney was forced to foul in the game’s final seconds, and Curtis calmly sank four foul shots before the final buzzer to preserve the win.
“Curtis is our bread and butter player,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “He was getting off ball screens and able to get off shots in the fourth quarter. He is our man. We had a great practice yesterday and that helped us early in the game.”
Xenia opened the season last weekend with lopsided losses to Princeton and Columbus Africentric.
“I like to think that the tough schedule we faced in our first three games will make us better and play tough come February,” Anderson said. “I feel fortunate to get a W tonight for our first win of the season. We played a very strong and talented team tonight.”
Sidney led by two points at halftime and the third quarter was basically even as Sidney took a 49-46 lead into the fourth. That was when Curtis and Gordon took over the game themselves, as both players each gathered in 14 points.
It was neck-and-neck down the stretch after post player Norde Uholo scored on a putback to tie the game at 52-52. Curtis later buried a 3, and after another Xenia basket, Gordon made a shot to cut Xenia’s lead to 57-55 with four minutes left in game.
That was about the point in the game that Sidney wing/guard Ratez Roberts hurt his ankle and had to be removed from the court. He never saw any playing time again, which Sidney coach John Willoughby said hurt the team.
“Ratez was doing things for us on offense,” Willoughby said. “We missed him down the stretch. He is also an excellent passer which all of our kids are. He plays unselfish.”
Roberts finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Curtis hit a big 3 with just under four minutes left and Gordon hit a jumper to cut Xenia’s lead to 60-57 with 3:30 left.
Uloho got a shot to fall in which gave the Buccaneers a 62-57 advantage. Gordon hit two free throws with three minutes left, and Curtis quickly followed by swishing another 3-pointer to give Xenia a 65-59 lead.
Gordon drained a 3 to cut Xenia’s lead to three points with three minutes left in game. Meechi Harris lost his defender and connected on an open layup to give Xenia a 67-62 advantage. On the next Sidney possession, Gordon missed a 3 and Xenia got the ball inside again to Uholo, who struck again for two points to boost the lead to 69-62.
Sidney made 24-of-53 shot attempts (45 percent) from the field as a team.
“I give their coach credit,” Willoughby said. “He went to a zone defense and that forced us out of our comfort zone. Playing for the first time, while for Xenia it was their third game, makes a big difference.”
It didn’t look like the game would be so close at the beginning after Xenia built a 9-0 lead. The Buccaneers led 21-13 after the first quarter.
Gordon got hot in the second quarter after being held to just three points in the first quarter. He scored 10 points in the first four minutes, and Sidney got the lead at 26-23 by the 3:00 mark. The Yellow Jackets got ahead 29-23 before Xenia cut into the lead at 31-29 after Harris hit a lay-up at the buzzer.
Gordon added seven rebounds and five assists to go with his 37 points. Josiah Hudgins had seven points with one rebound, and post player Devin Roger scored four along with nine rebounds. Ryan Heins fouled out and did not score but played outstanding defense for the Jackets by helping to force a few turnovers.
Aside from Curtis, Harris had a nice game scoring 10 points along with seven rebounds. Jay Evans, whose early shooting helped Xenia get their first quarter lead, scored 11. Uholo netted eight points along with three boards.
The teams made 17 combined 3-pointers.
The Jackets hope to rebound this Friday when they play at Tippecanoe against the Red Devils. Tipp is 1-0 after a 78-70 win over Oakwood in a season opener last Friday.