Tough sledding on a snowy night: Tipp did enough to beat Xenia in their seventh straight win. It was never pretty, but CJ Bailey’s trifecta of threes and a stout defense got the job done.
Xenia, Oh – A win is a win, right?
That phrase wouldn’t exist if we believed it.
“We’re happy to escape with this one, but to be honest it felt a little bit like a loss afterward,” Tipp forward Jackson Smith said.
But first, the good news.
For the glass-half-full fan, it’s easy enough to take the W, blame a snow day for interrupting their routine, and move on. Pretty or not, Tipp added to the win column again, something they’ve made quite the habit of in the new year. Their win streak extends to seven, and they move to 11-1 in the MVL.
Tipp flashed signs of being the team we know they can be when they raced out to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter.
CJ Bailey accounted for 8 of those 20 points, knocking down both his 3-point shots.
They scored all 20 exactly how coaches want to score: in the paint, free throws, open threes.
They bookended the night with another big run in the final six minutes, pushing their lead from a measly 10, to a more respectable 51-30 final.
Even when Tipp’s lead narrowed and they couldn’t buy a bucket, the rebounding beatdown kept Xenia’s rallies at bay. The Red Devils got two or three chances every time down the floor to find the net. Xenia got one, almost without exception.
When the athletic Xenia guards sliced into the lane, they met the Great Wall of Tipp City – Jackson Smith and Maddox Sivon, arms straight up. Don’t let the stat sheet trick you because they don’t rack up blocks, when you’re shooting over their arms, they might as well have swat blocked it into the fourth row. Plus it keeps the forwards out of foul trouble.
CJ Bailey led all players with 13 points, but maybe more crucially, held Xenia’s leading scorer, Alijah Withers, to just three points.
“He’s a quick, shifty guard,” Bailey said. “He’s hard to defend. We focused on playing strong help side defense, and with the help of my teammates we were able to hold him down.”
Smith and Sivon both scored nine, and Preston Zumwalt notched eight, all three played their role on defense and raking in rebounds.
In other good news for the Red Devil faithful, Sidney dropped Stebbins some 40 miles north, giving Tipp a buffer in the Miami Valley League. Even with a second loss to Stebbins next week, the Red Devils would hold an outright lead in the MVL.
Any glass-half-empty fans have plenty to complain about.
Xenia’s 2-3 zone caused nightmares for Tipp’s offense in the two middle quarters. The Bucs locked down on Jackson Smith and Maddox Sivon in the post, and the guards didn’t shoot well enough to make them pay.
“When the shots aren’t falling you gotta get stops, and get stops, and get stops,” Tipp Head Coach Brock Moon said. “And that’s something we did well at times tonight, enough to get a win. That’s something we can learn from.”
Despite the 21-point margin of victory, Xenia won the second and third quarter, in which Tipp scored just seven points each.
“We were getting shots, but they were able to get bodies on us,” Smith said. “We struggled down low, we were getting good shots on the perimeter we just couldn’t get it down low.”
Xenia opened the third quarter with their pace of play meter set to 110%. The spike in pace caught Tipp off guard, allowing Xenia to cut into the 13-point halftime lead.
“We knew coming into this that their best hope was to beat us in a track meet,” Smith said.
Tipp recovered quickly enough to prevent irreparable damage, but they may not have that wide of a margin of error against other MVL and tournament opponents.
“We gotta keep our energy up,” Bailey said. We hit our shots, and that kept us up, but then when we stopped hitting we had no energy. That’s what slowed us down.”
Smith echoed that once their jumpers went as icy cold as the evening’s weather, they realized that was really all they had going for them.
Tipp’s league-leading defense has earned the benefit of the doubt, but there’s no doubt that they caught Xenia an a horrific shooting night. The Bucs found a surprising number of open jumpers, but couldn’t sink enough to keep them within striking distance.
“This is part of an up and down season,” Moon said. “It’s better to learn from a win than a loss. I didn’t think we played that great defensively, they just happened to miss a lot of shots.”
Xenia dropped to 3-13 in what can only be described as a rebuilding year after they graduated 89% of their scoring production from last year.
This year’s team has just two seniors, so expect the Bucs to improve with Jason Caudill back at the reigns.
Junior guard Trimonde Henry led Xenia with eight points, including a couple of exceptional finishes at the glass.
Henry likely would’ve been guarded by Jackson Davis, had Davis not been sidelines by a leg injury.
But the Red Devils proved they can at least tread water in his absence.
“Not having Jackson Davis hurt us tonight,” Moon said. “He’s a guy that shoots 40% from three, and that changes things for us, so it’s just new guys learning to step up into new roles.
Tipp will embrace sports amnesia overnight, forget about this one, and try find a way to win again without Davis tomorrow.
After all, a win is a win, right?