Curtis rallies Xenia past Fairborn, into sectional finals

Xenia sophomore guard Samari Curtis dribbles with pressure from Fairborn’s Kermit Redmon during a Division I sectional semifinal on Tuesday at Centerville. Curtis led Xenia with 25 points. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

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Xenia sophomore guard Samari Curtis dribbles with pressure from Fairborn’s Kermit Redmon during a Division I sectional semifinal on Tuesday at Centerville. Curtis led Xenia with 25 points. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Xenia trailed Fairborn in the fourth quarter of a Division I sectional semifinal on Tuesday at Springfield, but Samari Curtis was never worried.

Curtis, a sophomore guard, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to help Xenia rally and beat Fairborn 64-59 at Centerville High School. The Buccaneers advance to face Springfield in a sectional final on Friday.

Fairborn led 47-43 with 4:23 left in the fourth but Xenia scored the next 10 points. Curtis hit a couple of key baskets during the run, including one that gave the Buccaneers the lead at 48-47 with three minutes left. Xenia led for the rest of the game.

“We just had to buckle down and play defense,” Curtis said. “We weren’t play any defense, and we were letting them get whatever they wanted. We just had to stay in front of those guys, and the buckets came with it.”

Fairborn pulled within two points twice late in the fourth, but Curtis responded each time with free throws to extend Xenia’s lead. The Skyhawks missed a late 3-pointer attempt that could have tied it, and Brandon Love finished the game off for Xenia with a layup at the buzzer.

“These kids have a fierce will to win,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “I don’t know where it comes from all the time. I know there was a point in the fourth quarter when Ricky (Williams) fouled out, Samari came over and told him, ‘Dude, I’ve got your back.’ They’ve all covered for each other all year.”

Fairborn led 27-24 after a back-and-forth first half. The Skyhawks led for most of the third quarter, but Curtis hit a basket late to give the Buccaneers a 37-36 lead. Fairborn had 12 turnovers in the second half.

“We didn’t play our best basketball,” Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said. “We tried to shuffle some guys because we got in foul trouble, but Samari drew a lot of fouls and got to the line and knocked them down.”

Curtis led the Buccaneers with 25 points, eight of which came from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Kobe Hughlett added 13.

The Buccaneers (17-7) are the No. 8 seed in the sectional and will try to knock off the top-seeded Wildcats on Friday.

“They’re fast and athletic but beatable, very beatable,” Curtis said. “We’ve just got to play our game.”

Fairborn finishes 13-11 and will lose five seniors, including guard Branden Lilley, who scored 20 points on Tuesday.

“A lot of these guys have played since they were underclassmen,” Chivington said. “There’s a lot of things that these guys can take as life lessons, and there’s a lot of fine young men in this group that have bright futures.”

Springfield 94, West Carrollton 39: The Wildcats crushed West Carrollton to advance to Friday's sectional final. It's the third consecutive trip to the sectional finals for Springfield.

Though the baskets came early and often against West Carrollton, Springfield coach Isaiah Carson was most pleased with Springfield’s defensive effort. The Pirates (0-23) scored no more than 11 points in any quarter, including in the second half when Springfield played mostly junior varsity players.

The ‘Cats (20-3) were led by Michael Wallace, who scored 16 points.

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