Sidney, Springboro advance in Division I sectional tournament

Andre Gordon is one of a handful of high school basketball players in the Miami Valley who can score just about any time he wants. Sidney needed its star to do that in the second half Saturday night.

“It was close throughout the whole game, so I had to turn it up a little bit,” he said.

Gordon scored 19 of his 30 points in the second half to lead fourth-seeded Sidney to a 48-35 victory over N0. 12 Carroll and into a second-round matchup against Springboro. The No. 11 Panthers knocked off No. 8 Fairborn 48-38 in the middle game of three at Vandalia-Butler.

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Carroll (12-11) trailed 21-13 at halftime but rallied to a 28-all tie in four minutes. Sidney coach John Willoughby called timeout, made a couple substitutions and got his team to refocus its defensive effort. And Gordon scored 16 of his team’s final 20 points.

“Tournament play,” said Gordon, who will soon end his high school career and head to Virginia Tech to play. “It’s just like the first game of the season. You’re ready to get after it because it’s win or go home. This is my senior year.”

The Yellow Jackets (19-4) have six seniors. Willoughby said the three days leading up to Saturday were the best practice days he’s had in his three seasons at Sidney. He added that the three days were also the best he’s seen Gordon practice.

“I’m hoping they’re sensing they’re seniors and this is the time they’ve got to do it,” Willoughby said. “They played real well tonight.”

The tournament road remains difficult. Sidney faces Springboro (11-12) at 7:30 Thursday in Vandalia and then possibly second-seeded Springfield. The Panthers handled Fairborn (14-9) with their height and dug-in half-court defense. Springboro made Fairborn star guard Shaunn Monore work hard for his 21 points and took control with an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter and push its lead to 40-27.

The Panthers have lost many close games this year. Now they are finishing better.

“Anytime you can survive and advance — it doesn’t have to be pretty,” Springboro coach Kyle Youker said. “I give this group credit. They didn’t point fingers. They’ve stayed unified.”

Kameron Dickerson came off the bench to lead a balanced Springboro offense with 10 points. Michael Berner, Connor Grevey and point guard Willieon Yates scored eight apiece.

The Panthers are a dangerous opponent and belie their No. 11 seed because of a long lineup that starts 6-foot-7 Garrett Powell, 6-8 Berner, 6-3 Grevey and 6-4 Noah Moser.

“I didn’t know they were that big,” Willoughby said. “I don’t know how we’re going to deal with the size yet. It comes down to effort and position against that type of team.”

Sidney’s tallest starters at 6-3 Ratez Roberts and the 6-2 Gordon. Lathan Jones, a 6-3 junior, has been coming off the bench more and more. He sparked Sidney with his defense and rebounding on both ends.

“He’s come a long way for us and been a key for us,” Willoughby said. “And going into Springboro we’re probably going to find somebody else too who can play the post.”

Sidney will counter with speed and Gordon’s ability to take over a game.

“Anytime you’ve got a Division I athlete on your team, you’re going to win some games,” Youker saud. “I know it’s not just him — it’s his supporting cast. It’s going to be a tough game.”

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