Sidney’s two best practices so far this season have been the ones the day following a loss according to coach John Willoughby.
Willoughby has been pleased the Yellow Jackets have responded to losses like that, but he’s hoping not to have to see such a response anytime soon, especially with a key stretch of Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division games coming up.
Sidney’s GWOC American North slate starts Friday night at Garby Gymnasium in Piqua. After facing the rival Indians, Sidney will host Butler on Tuesday and travel to Greenville next Friday.
The Yellow Jackets are behind Butler (4-0, 2-0) in the North standings. Sidney’s season opening loss to Xenia was an American Division crossover games, which count toward league standings.
Sidney (2-2, 2-1 GWOC North) bounced back from the loss with a four-point win over Tippecanoe last Friday but fell by 14 points to Wapakoneta last Saturday.
After struggling early against Troy last Tuesday, Sidney went on an 11-1 run over a four-minute stretch in the third quarter to take control. The Yellow Jackets won by 11 points.
“I wasn’t worried about us bouncing back,” Willoughby said. “When we’ve lost, we’ve come back pretty strong, especially when we’ve had time off in-between. We have trouble with back-to-back nights, but the good thing is our two best practices have been after our losses. So we’re still keeping our heads up and plugging along.
“We have a ways to go, but at least our practices have been getting us there.”
Friday’s game between Sidney and Piqua is worth a half a point toward the Piqua vs. Sidney all-sports trophy race.
It’s the first season the two schools are competing for an all-sports trophy, and Sidney has a 6-4 edge in the competition heading into Friday’s games. The schools’ girls teams will play at 6 p.m. on Friday with the boys varsity to follow.
“I’m not sure how much it adds leading up to the fact, but it sure does afterwards,” Willoughby said of the all-sports trophy race. “You don’t want to be on the losing end after the season and wishing you’d have won so it would have helped, but right now it’s not in our minds.”
Piqua (1-3, 0-2 GWOC North) won its first game of the season last Saturday at Milton-Union but followed with a 10-point loss to Tippecanoe on Tuesday.
The Indians have a new head coach in Steve Grasso, who previously coached at Graham and Yellow Springs.
“It looks like against man, they’re trying to open it up a little bit, spreading the floor stuff,” Willoughby said. “There’s a little more one-on-one stuff this year.”
Ben Schmiesing has led Piqua with an average of 13 points and 10.5 rebounds through the first four games. Senior guard Devon Brown and junior guard Qurri Tucker have each averaged 12.3 points.
Piqua averaged 52 points as a team in its first four games and allowed an average of 60.
Willoughby said Sidney will have to focus on Brown and Schmiesing on defense.
“He (Brown) looks like the one who tries to do a lot for them, so we’re going to have to try to control him a little bit,” Willoughby said. “We’ll have Josiah Hudgins on him. Then of course we’re going to have to take Schmiesing away inside. I think with Devan (Rogers) and Ratez (Roberts) inside, hopefully we can control him a little bit.”
Junior guard Andre Gordon has led Sidney with 27.3 points and five assists per game. Roberts, a junior forward, has averaged 10.5 points and nine rebounds per game. Rogers, a senior center, has averaged 6.5 points and eight rebounds.
Anna looks to keep up pace against Jackson Center
Anna has kept up its high-flying pace through the first two weeks of the season, but that may change on Friday against Jackson Center.
Anna coach Nate Barhorst said the Rockets (3-0, 1-0 Shelby County Athletic League) will have to try to keep a fast tempo up against Jackson Center (1-2, 0-1). Anna has averaged 74.3 points in its first three games.
Barhorst said New Knoxville was trying to limit possessions in a nonconference game last Saturday, but the Rockets were able to run away in the second half to a 72-40 win.
“I think they are going to try to limit the number of possessions,” Barhorst said. “… We had to find ways to get it going (against New Knoxville), and we probably didn’t do a good enough job of getting that tempo going like we like.”
Many teams will likely have problems holding the Rockets down this year.
Anna had six players score in double figures in a season-opening 99-90 win over New Bremen on Dec. 5. Wyatt Bensman, who scored 36 points and 30 points in Anna’s first two games, scored just four against New Knoxville.
Bensman’s lower output didn’t hamper Anna, though. Joel Cathcart led Anna with 20, while Griffin Doseck scored 16. Six other players scored in the game.
“That’s the nice thing about this team this year,” Barhorst said. “It can come from any guy in any game. When you’ve got several guys that can do that night-in and night-out, it’s tough to guard. Wyatt understands that, too. Even though he only got four shots, he was one of the happiest guys in the locker room, because we still got the W.”
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.