Xenia point guard Samari Curtis was a starter as a freshman for the Bucs. FILE

Xenia makes classic move in return to Benner Field House

Xenia will make a five-game boys and girls high school basketball salute to Benner Field House on Saturday against visiting West Carrollton.

Built in 1939 and renovated after the 1974 tornado that ravaged the city, “The Pit” was home to some of the best Buccaneers teams and players through 1977. Among those were the 1942 Xenia Central boys state title team that was coached by future University of Dayton head coach Tom Blackburn. Jerry Lucas of Middletown played in the beloved — and notoriously dark — bowl setting.

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“There’s a little bit of history in that building,” said Xenia coach Kent Anderson, whose father Phil Anderson coached the last Buccaneers team to call “The Pit” home. “To play a varsity game in that building with the history of all the great players who played there is a real treat.”

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Action will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday with a freshman boys game. That will be followed at 3 by a boys JV game and 4:30 with a girls JV game. The girls varsity game is at 6, the boys varsity at 7:30.

Cost is $5 at the door and good for all games. The first 400 spectators will receive a free “Benner Field House Classic” T-shirt. Depending on spectator response, the Classic could become an annual event.

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Common back in its day, the field house still has its signature girder pillars around which spectators must maneuver .

“I grew up watching (former Xenia greats) Steve Bayless jump out of the gym in the early 1970s,” Anderson said. “Brad Montgomery shooting baseline jumpers, Gary Shaw lighting it up from about 25 feet, and then Ray Greene, Dave McGuire and Eric Salter as a sophomore in the last year it was used full-time. What a great era of Xenia boys basketball.”

Xenia (1-2) is at Trotwood-Madison (2-0) on Friday. West Carrollton (0-4) was scheduled to host Fairborn (1-3) on Thursday.

• Xenia oversized point guard Samari Curtis missed the Bucs’ first two games while recovering from a shooting-hand wrist injury. Although he didn’t shoot for a high percentage, he made a spectacular scoring debut with 31 points in a 56-51 loss to Stebbins last week.

That’s the kind of potential that has enticed Dayton, Wright State, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Xavier about the 6-foot-3 sophomore.

“He’s awfully talented,” Anderson said. “We’re even getting mail from Arizona. For a sophomore he’s getting a lot of attention. He does a real good job of creating for other people, but he can get his own shot anytime he needs it.”

• Chaminade Julienne senior guard Christian Montague (21.0) appears fully healed from a torn ACL suffered late last season. A three-year starter, he tallied a career-high 26 points in a 60-58 Greater Catholic League Co-Ed crossover defeat of visiting Cincinnati McNicholas last week.

That was CJ’s third straight win after dropping an opener to Fern Creek (Ky.) in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Southern State CC in Hillsboro. CJ (3-1) is at Springfield (1-1) on Friday.

• High-scoring Franklin (4-0) has four players averaging double-figure points and nearly two more. The Wildcats’ starting lineup consists of Payton Knott (13.0 ppg.), Ryan Montgomery (12.3), Konnor Black (11.0) and Jared Kinzer (10.5). There’s also Noah Kremer (9.8) and Cole Bundren (8.5).

Coach Brian Bales’ green-light crew is averaging a Southwestern Buckeye League-best 80.3 points. Brookville (4-0), Oakwood (3-0), Eaton (3-1) and Franklin have had great starts in the SWBL Southwestern Division. Carlisle (3-0) is the only unbeaten SWBL Buckeye Division team.

• Bethel 6-1 junior guard Caleb South surpassed 1,000 career points by scoring 30 in the Bees’ season-opening defeat of Ansonia. Bethel (3-1) hosts Franklin Monroe (4-0) in an early Cross County Conference showdown on Friday.

• Amanda Schroeder has been key for the unbeaten Carroll (7-0) girls. The senior leads the GCL Co-Ed North in scoring (23.7) and is second in rebounding (10.9) and shooting percentage (55.4). Carroll is at Purcell Marian (3-1) on Saturday.

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