By Andrew Lombardo
MIDDLETOWN — Xavier opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back Thursday night routing Valley Regional 56-41 behind Andrew Brown’s 22 points and 12 rebounds in the Art Kohs Christmas Classic.
Xavier (2-0) will meet Glastonbury for the tournament title on Friday (7:15pm tip). Glastonbury defeated Waterford 54-47 in the opener of the annual event at Xavier High.
Valley (1-1) will play Waterford in the consolation game (5:15pm).
“We can’t spot a team 14 points to begin the game,” Valley Regional coach Kevin Woods said. “It was an even game outside of that but we are disappointed it wasn’t closer. We feel that we are on a higher level than we showed tonight, but we have some guys out of sync and we will be better.”
Xavier did not let its lead grow smaller than 12 the entire game, but struggled to put away Valley for long stretches, mostly due to inconsistent offense.
“We opened well in the first quarter but in the second we got away from what we wanted to do, took too many quick shots and didn’t rebound as well as we need to,” Xavier coach Mike Kohs said.
The Falcons could not connect from 3-point range, missing all of their eight attempts.
Although their shot selection was not what Kohs wanted it to be at times, it mattered little against the smaller Valley lineup. The 6-foot-4 Brown was dominant inside.
“Andrew Brown was a beast tonight on both ends — rebounding, scoring, just owning the paint,” Kohs said.
“I just work hard, box out, and make sure I keep competing and play physical,” Brown said. “My teammates found me in some of the soft spots in the defense where I was open, so we need to keep working on that and playing like that.”
Xavier was also led KJ Grisham, who chipped in 14 points. Fellow seniors Marcus Williams and Stephen Kohs also contributed 7 and 8 points, respectively.
“We need to add some depth,” Kohs said. “We have four senior starters back from last season and junior Parker Hunter has been great, but we need to develop some younger guys and find some guys to step up and provide some depth off the bench.”
Xavier 56, Valley Regional 41
Jake Grow 5 0-0 14, Chris Sparaco 1 2-2 4, Cade Ensinger 5 3-4 15, Macklin Miezejeski 1 0-0 2, Jeremy Arnum 1 0-0 2, John Tibbets 2 0-2 4. Totals: 15 5 41.
Marcus Williams 2 3-4 7, KJ Grisham 4 6-7 14, Stephen Kohs 2 4-7 8, Andrew Brown 9 4-4 22, Parker Hunter 2 1-2 5. Totals: 18 18 56.
Score By Quarters
V 4 9 6 22 —41
X 14 8 14 20—56
3-Pointers: V—Grow 4, Ensinger 2
Records: Valley 1-1, Xavier 2-0