ST. MARYS — Trey Werntz used to light up the scoreboard as a freshman on junior varsity for Sidney two years ago, but he’s been a bench player on varsity the last two years and plays behind several experienced guards.
With those experienced guards lagging early in a nonconference game at St. Marys on Saturday, Werntz got in and started lighting up the scoreboard again.
Werntz scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second quarter to help the Yellow Jackets overcome a slow start and beat St. Marys Memorial 54-36. It was the fourth victory in the last six days for the Yellow Jackets, which will cap off a busy week on Monday at home against Lehman Catholic.
“When (our starters) get tired, guys on the bench have to step up, and just keep it going and not slack off,” Werntz said. “We wanted to make sure we just kept on rolling and kept on winning.”
The long week looked to be taking an effect on Sidney (15-3) early on Saturday. But Werntz sparked the offense in the second quarter and junior guard Dominick Durr came off the bench and scored seven late points to help the team put it away.
“I thought Dominick came in and played well, Trey came in and played well and Lathan Jones came in and played well,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “That’s what you need when you play this many games. You’re going to need to everybody.
“… It was all three of them. Dom picked up the tempo for us and the defensive pressure, Lathan was good on the defensive end and got a couple of rebounds when we were struggling, and Trey was huge. We’ve got to get our starters going here, get a little rest and get ready for Monday.”
Werntz is one of the first players off the bench for Sidney. After sitting for the first quarter, he was inserted during the second on Saturday and helped breath life into a stagnate offense. He found a shooting groove against St. Marys’ zone defense.
“The zone usually leaves shooters open,” Werntz said. “They got the ball to me, and I just knocked it down.”
Andre Gordon added 12 while Ratez Roberts scored 10, including three thunderous dunks. Durr finished with nine.
Gordon — who’s stylish final basket on a drive to the rim prompted St. Marys‘ public address announcer to imitate the SportsCenter jingle — played more of a traditional point guard role due to St. Marys’ defensive pressure. He succeeded and consistently worked the ball to Roberts, Werntz and Durr for open looks.
“It makes it easier for us because he draws two, three, sometimes four people on him, and it makes everyone else open,” Werntz said of playing with the Virginia Tech commit. “We all just feed off of him. It just makes it easier having him on my team.”
Sidney fell behind 13-7 early in the second quarter but went on a 14-0 run to take control and built a 27-17 lead by halftime.
Max Mielke scored seven points in the first three minutes of the third to help St. Marys (5-10) pull within 30-26, but the Yellow Jackets boosted the lead to 39-33 by the end of the quarter. Sidney then scored the first six points of the fourth on a breakaway dunk by Roberts, basket by Gordon and a put-back by Werntz to take a 12-point lead.
Durr scored seven points in the last 2:13 to help Sidney run away.
“It was almost like last night’s game (against Troy),” Willoughby said. “I was really happy with the way we defended all night, but we just weren’t there offensively sometimes. Thank goodness for our subs today. They made the difference.
“I thought we made good choices at the end to help put that away, and that’s something we’ve struggled with. We did a pretty good job of moving the clock down.”
The teams struggled offensive early on. St. Marys led 6-3 after the first six minutes of play, but the teams found a shooting groove over the last two minutes of the first quarter. A dunk by Roberts with 1:06 left brought Sidney within 8-7, but Matt Mielke made a 3 with 12 seconds left to push the lead to four by the end of the quarter.
Carson Fishbach made a basket to put the Roughriders up 13-7 with 7:38 left, but the Yellow Jackets scored the next 14 points. Gordon made a pair of free throws with 6:58 left and Roberts made a jumper with 6:05 left to pull Sidney within 13-11, then Werntz started scoring.
Werntz hit a 3 from the top of the key with 4:54 left to put the Yellow Jackets ahead, then Durr made a jumper 50 seconds later. Werntz then made a reverse layup off a pass from Gordon and followed with a 3 with 2:21 left to give Sidney a 21-13 lead and cap off a 14-0 run.
Werntz added two more 3s before the end of the quarter to help boost the lead to 10 by halftime.
“I was feeling it,” Werntz said of his second-quarter outpouring. “It’s been a while since I had a game like that. Freshman year, I used to get hot like that all the time. But it came together, and I knocked down some shots.”
Werntz said the Yellow Jackets would love for their fifth win in a week’s time to come against crosstown rival Lehman (7-8).
“It’s the other school in town, and you always want to make sure you beat Lehman,” Werntz said. “We’ve got to come out like it’s any other game and be ready.”
Ethan Steger led St. Marys with 17 points while Mielke finished with 10.