Girls basketball: Sidney, Bellbrook advance to district semifinals

TROY – When Allie Stockton considered the difference between her Sidney team now and the one that lost its season opener to Russia, she didn’t hesitate.

“Now if we would play that game again, it wouldn’t be a close game,” she said confidently.

Sidney grew up the past three months the way every coach would hope a young team could. Stockton is the only junior in the starting lineup. She’s joined by sophomore Kiara Hudgins and freshmen Larkyn Vordemark, Jordan Scully and Kelis McNeal.

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The reason the lineup is so young and the depth so thin is because junior starters Lexee Brewer and Regan Clark were lost to early-season injuries. Still, the fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets won the Miami Valley League and defeated No. 7 Beavercreek 58-47 Wednesday night in Division I at Troy High School.

“We’ve been dealing with stuff all season long,” said third-year coach Jamal Foster. “For them to come out and be ready to perform is just a testament to what kind of group we have. They wanted every rebound. They dove on the loose balls. All it takes to win the game.”

The key to his young team’s 19-5 record is simple for Foster.

“We’re going to defend for four quarters,” he said. “We’re going to try to be the toughest team on the floor. We know we don’t have many. We’ve never had many. This is all we need.”

The next challenge is third-seeded Bellbrook (22-3). The fast-paced Golden Eagles rolled over No. 17 Franklin (3-19) 57-32. A berth in the district finals will be decided at 7:30 Monday night at Troy.

“If we all come out and play like we did tonight, and we’ve been playing, we can have a good run,” Stockton said.

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Bellbrook has been ranked in the state top 10 all season and was led by Alayna Meyer with 18 points and Ashley Frantz with 11. The Golden Eagles haven’t played this deep in the tournament for a while.

“We’ve put ourselves in position with being a three seed, and every step the teams get better, and the intensity goes up,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said. “We defended well early, we shot the ball extremely well, so that tells me they were focused.”

Tincher said that same focus will be needed against Sidney, and he said the Jackets don’t play like a young team.

“Their speed, their quickness, their tenacity – they play really hard,” Tincher said. “They don’t have a ton of size, but they play extremely hard. I don’t think there’s a time when they relax.”

Stockton is Sidney’s unquestioned leader. She averages 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds and led the team with 21 against Beavercreek. Almost every time the Jackets needed points or a play, Stockton made it. Her two baskets to start the fourth quarter put the Jackets in control at 40-24.

“Allie wants to make plays,” Foster said. “The fact that Allie has been here before the ball just seems to get to her. And now it seems like she’s making all the plays we need to do to win.”

Scully added 15 points and Vordemark 14 for the Jackets. Scully hit some early threes for a 16-11 lead.

“I’m super proud of all the girls,” Stockton said. “They have all stepped up and have taken major steps in their growth, in their confidence, in everything. We put in a lot of hours, a lot of extra hours.”

Beavercreek was led by senior Maci Rhoades with 14 points and Lilli Leopard with 10. The Beavers struggled to score until the fourth quarter, but the Jackets were able to hold them off.

“They made plays, and we got ourselves in a hole and that’s a tough team to come back on because they spread you out and they handle the ball well,” Beavercreek coach Aric Seilhamer said. “You extend your pressure out and then they make you pay.”

Seilhamer led the Beavers to a 15-9 record in his first season after replacing the legendary Ed Zink, who retired after 46 seasons with the most wins (810) in state history and three state titles.

“I love basketball, I love the kids, it was fun,” Seilhamer said. “Obviously everybody always wants to win games. But I was just happy that the culture that we’re building, the positivity and the love amongst teammates – that trumps any loss. That’s the story of life.”

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