Boys basketball: Sidney overcomes early deficit to beat Stebbins

Trailing by 18 points midway through the second quarter, the Sidney High School basketball team never wavered against rival Stebbins.

The Yellow Jackets patiently pulled to within seven points at halftime and outscored the Indians by 20 points in the second half en route to a 72-59 victory in a Miami Valley League Valley Division game on Friday night in Riverside. Senior Dominick Durr scored a game-high 20 points and senior Darren Taborn added 11 as Sidney won its fifth straight game.

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Jakob Reed had 12 points and Jalen Tolbert had 11 for Stebbins, which jumped out to a 31-13 lead in the second quarter, thanks to a full-court press and a tenacious zone defense.

“I give Stebbins a lot of credit,” said Sidney coach John Willoughby. “Defensively, they have active hands, they rotate defensive positions. They love to go double the ball, but they’re great at rotating to the open spots. It took us a quarter-and-a-half to adjust to it a little bit. I’m proud of the way we stuck in there and handled it the rest of the game.”

A 3-pointer by Sidney’s Trey Werntz capped a 13-2 Yellow Jackets run to end the first half, cutting the Stebbins lead to seven points at 33-26.

“We probably missed six bunny shots in the first half,” Willoughby said. “I told them we were going to get seven or eight more bunny shots and we were going to make them. That was the big thing. We had to do a better job rebounding.”

In the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets switched from a zone defense to a full-court man-to-man press. Sidney forced turnovers and held the Indians to several one-shot possessions, eventually tying the score at 47 entering the final eight minutes.

“We weren’t making headway with (the zone),” Willoughby said. “We tried to pick them up man-to-man full court and I think that got the game where we needed it to go. Our guards did a great job of picking up (defensively) and causing some trouble.”

Meanwhile, Stebbins struggled offensively. They were held scoreless for nearly four-and-a-half minutes in the second half.

“We stopped playing together basketball,” said Indians coach Ron Coleman. “Things don’t fall when you’re doing that and we just kept digging a bigger and a bigger hole. (Sidney) got on a roll. That’s a good basketball team.”

The Yellow Jackets dominated the fourth quarter, eventually leading by as many as 15 points.

Despite the loss, the Indians can still make headway in the league race with seven games remaining. The focus will be to go 1-0 each time out, Coleman said.

“We’re still a good basketball team,” he said. “We believe in them to do what we do best. We got away from that and that’s my responsibility to get us in the best position to do that.”

With the win, the Yellow Jackets improved to 14-1 and 11-1 in the division. The victory propelled Sidney into a two-game lead on West Carrollton (10-5, 9-3) and a three-game advantage on Stebbins (12-4, 8-4) in the Valley Division with six league games to play. The MVL plays 18 league games as part of its 22-game schedule.

The Yellow Jackets are seeking their third division championship in four years. They won Greater Western Ohio Conference division championships in two of the last three seasons before joining the renewed MVL this season.

“Every game from here on out counts toward the league,” Willoughby said. “That’s a lot of mental stress.”

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