Flyin’ Game 3: First Love Christian Academy (Pa.) 89, Xenia 80

Before Saturday at Flyin’ to the Hoop, Xenia star Samari Curtis had never made a shot from beyond half court. But as he dribbled toward the center line, with the clock running low at the end of the first half, he wasn’t thinking about making the shot.

“I tried to draw the foul, thought he was going to come and hit me,” Curtis said.

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Instead, the First Love Christian player let Curtis double-pump and – appropriately enough – fly toward the hoop from about 55 feet. When Curtis landed three feet shy of half court the shot went in at the buzzer.

“I’ve seen that kid do some amazing stuff – sometimes you take it for granted,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “But just to sit back and watch all the different ways he can score and then there’s another one.”

Curtis, a 6-foot-4 senior guard who has signed to play at Cincinnati, averages 32.5 points a game for Xenia (7-6) and scored 44 points Saturday in the Buccaneers’ 89-80 loss to First Love of Washington, Pa. Curtis has scored at least 41 points in his past three games. He made 13 of 29 shots, including five 3-pointers and was 13-of-20 at the free-throw line.

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“He’s relentless,” First Love coach Khayree Wilson said. “When his shot’s not falling he’s still shooting, he’s going to the line, he’s getting calls. He is going to be a great Cincinnati basketball player.”

Curtis, who also had eight rebounds and five assists, is used to playing teams like First Love with multiple Division I prospects during summer AAU tournaments. Xenia struggle at times but found its way back into the game in the final minutes.

“I was proud that no one was scared and everyone was playing with heart,” Curtis said. “I just let them know they’re not as good as you think they are. I mean they’re good, but there’s not going to be a LeBron on the team.”

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Xenia also got 10 points from post Zack Gaither and 13 from guard Jate Bradley off the bench. That production in the Flyin’ to the Hoop setting was encouraging to Anderson.

“That’s what we have to have if we’re going to continue to get better,” he said, “and do anything in the tournament.”

Mount St. Marys signee Naim Miller led First Love with 24 points. D.J. Gordon, a 6-5 junior who USA Today reported has an offer from Dayton, added 14 points.

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