TIPP CITY — Sidney had to battle for its first win of the season but came out on top 68-64 over the Tippecanoe Red Devils on Friday in a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North game.
Sidney fought hard the whole game to get the win with junior guard Andre Gordon leading the way with 24 points, six rebounds and several outstanding assists.
Gordon started the night off by making four 3-ponters in the first half to help Sidney get a 33-23 lead after two quarters. Tippecanoe went on an 8-0 run to start the third quarter, though, and it stayed close until the fourth.
“We played tough tonight and did not back down,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “Tipp held a decided height advantage over us and we were shorthanded with Devon Rogers being away at Toledo for a football recruiting event, and Ratez Roberts was hampered by wrist injury that he got (Tuesday) in the Xenia game. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
“We had some kids step up who normally do not play as much, but we needed them tonight.”
After getting a 15-9 lead in the first quarter, Sidney got two 3’s from Gordon to take a 12-point advantage over Tippecanoe.
Both teams used a lot of players to try to keep fresh legs on the court and avoid foul trouble. Trey Werntz, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward, was one of those players for the Yellow Jackets. He connected all four of his foul shots and finished with two rebounds.
“He’s a kid that will eventually score for us,” Willoughby said. “He has a nice jumper from the outside.”
After Tippecanoe’s run in the third cut Sidney’s lead to 33-31, Gordon got going again by dishing a pass to Keith Lee, who made two foul shots. Gordon then added a late pull-up jumper, and Sidney led 48-41 going into the fourth.
The Jackets increased their lead in the fourth, with Gordon hitting two foul shots and making another great pass to Lee, who scored a basket. Sidney stole the ball on Tipp’s next possession, and Gordon finished it off with a two handed reverse dunk that made the huge visiting crowd go bananas.
Roberts, a 6-3 junior forward, was a major force inside even though he was giving up two inches to his opponents. He had two thunderous blocks in the fourth, and Sidney built up its lead to 61-46.
Tippecanoe then got a lift from guard Caiden Smith, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and had 22 for the night.
After Gordon broke the press by himself and made a layup to give Sidney a 64-52 lead with 1:52 left in game, Smith made a basket and then capitalized on a Yellow Jacket turnover with an old-fashioned 3-point play. Tipp was able to narrow its deficit down to four points before the final buzzer.
“We need to finish the game better,” Willoughby said. “It was too sloppy for my liking. Offensively, we need to shoot better as a team from the perimeter. But Tipp is a good aggressive team and will win a lot of games. I liked that we increased our lead after tempers flared in the first quarter. You saw what Andre is capable of. He just started dribbling and keeping his head in the game and found guys open.”
Roberts finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Ryan Heins had 11 points (including two 3-pointers in the first quarter) and six rebounds. Darren Taborn finished with nine points. Forward/guard Josiah Hudgins had just one point but was a force on defense and had seven rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets made 19-of-57 shot attempts (33.3 percent) and 23-of-35 free throws (65.7 percent).