Throughout the off-season and before school started there had been a solitary sound in the gymnasium at the Xenia YMCA every day at 6 a.m.
It has been Xenia High School senior Brent Bauer hoisting shot after shot to get better for his last run through the high school season.
Friday night at Baker Middle School in Fairborn, the fruits of those labors were ripe as Bauer drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 1.3 seconds left to lift Xenia to a 54-51 win over Fairborn and improve to 10-2 overall and 5-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference South Division after the first round of action.
“It shows me all that work paid off,” Bauer said after being mobbed by teammates and fans as the horn sounded. “I hit a game-winner when I was little, but I have been waiting to hit one in high school. I’m still shocked.”
Fairborn (8-6, 3-2) coach Nathan Chivington tried to get a timeout after Bauer’s basket but didn’t get one.
“I told the official before they inbounded the ball that on a make, I wanted a timeout right away,” Chivington said. “But it should have never come down to that. That didn’t make or break the game.”
Bauer could feel the game would come down to the last shot.
Fairborn had an eight-point lead at one point and Xenia led by as many as six, but for the majority of the game, the teams were separated by three or fewer points.
“You could just tell it was going to be a great game,” Bauer said after finishing with 12 points. “(Jordan) Pumroy kept them in the game, He is a great player. I knew if it came down to the end and I had a chance, I had to hit it.”
The teams were tied four times and traded the lead 13 other occasions, including a crazy second half where both teams lost leads of nine points.
“Our group showed they were resilient,” Chivington said. “Teams we have had in the past would have broke down and it would have been a double-digit loss. I like that we were able to keep battling.”
Fairborn, which led 28-22 at the half thanks to 13 of Pumroy’s 17, pushed the lead to nine right away on a three-point play by Ryan Profitt.
Trailing 33-27, Xenia got six straight points from Khiyani Harris and a three from Bauer to turn the deficit into a 34-33 lead with 4:22 left in the third quarter.
“This is the way we have done it all year,” Xenia coach Kent Anderson said. “We have had someone step up every night.”
Friday, it was a trio of Bucs who stepped up.
Along with Bauer, Harris finished with 21 points and Ray James held Pumroy to four points in the second half.