GREENVILLE — Two eras came to an end for Sidney’s boys basketball program on Friday in Greenville. A talented class of seniors that has elevated the program to one of the Dayton-area’s best played its final regular season game, which was also the program’s last Greater Western Ohio Conference game.
It went like many of the GWOC American North Division games the team has played while the senior class has been with the program.
Sidney dominated from the start and crushed Greenville 75-36 in front of a packed house. The victory improves the Yellow Jackets to 18-4 overall and 12-3 in divisional play. They’ve won at least 15 games in regular season each of the last four seasons.
It was a moment senior guard Andre Gordon had looked forward to since he re-enrolled at the school last November after starting the school year with Huntington Prep in West Virginia.
Gordon, a Virginia Tech commit who is Sidney’s career points and assists leader, has been a big part of the team’s success the last four years. Though he was disappointed the squad lost out on a chance to earn a third consecutive GWOC American North title with a six-point loss against Vandalia-Butler last Tuesday, he said he’s still proud Sidney amassed 18 wins.
“I think our school record is 19-3, and 18 wins is my best record since I’ve been here, so we’ll take it,” Gordon said. “I felt like we had a good chance to do this, coming back this year with (fellow seniors) Ratez (Roberts), Josiah (Hudgins), some good athletes. This is probably the most athletic team we’ve had at Sidney in a long time, so I felt like we had a good chance to get some Ws, have some upsets.”
It was the last GWOC game for both Sidney and Greenville. The two schools are among 10 GWOC American League institutions that will leave the conference and reform the Miami Valley League later this year.
Sidney easily outmanned the helpless Green Wave (0-21, 0-14), which will try to avoid a winless season when it hosts Versailles on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets repeatedly took the ball away from Greenville defenders with ease, swatted away shot attempts and drove in the paint with little resistance.
“I’m glad we came back and played decently well from the get-go until the end, coming off of Tuesday,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “That was good to see. I thought our press worked well. We’ve been pretty good with our defense all year, and I thought we played pretty well all night.”
Gordon led Sidney with 23 points. Junior forward Lathan Jones finished with 19, including two thunderous breakaway dunks in the final minute. Senior guard Josiah Hudgins added 10.
Willoughby has coached the team the last three years and said the senior class is among the best he’s ever coached. Aside from Gordon, Ratez Roberts, Hudgins and Keith Lee are multiple-year varsity players.
“That whole group has been a pleasure to coach and a pleasure to watch all the way through,” Willoughby said. “I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s special when a group like that can stay together all the way through and be good teammates to each other and good friends.
“… Andre coming back I think made for a good ending for all their careers.”
Sidney will open tournament play next Saturday against Dayton Carroll at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activities Center. The Patriots were 11-10 entering a game on Friday at Chaminade-Julienne, which is the No. 4-ranked team in Division II in this week’s state Associated Press poll.
“We haven’t looked at them too deep, but I’m thinking they’re going to try to slow us down a little bit,” Willoughby said of Carroll. “… I thought tonight we played against their zone well. We worked on it after the Butler game for our guards to attack the gaps a little bit and get it to the basket. We did that (tonight) more than we’ve done against the zone the last few games.”
Gordon is hoping to lead Sidney on a long tournament run. The Yellow Jackets haven’t advanced to a district final in 20 years.
“We’re going on a streak,” Gordon said. “We just lost the game (Tuesday), and every time we’ve lost, we’ve bounced back with a five- to six-win streak, so I feel like we’re about to bounce back. Everyone’s ready for tournament time.”
Sidney led 40-17 at halftime and scored the first six points of the third quarter. After Noah Walker hit a basket to bring Greenville within 46-24 with 4:08 left, the Yellow Jackets scored the next nine points to push the lead over 30 with 1:43 left.
Gordon, Hudgins, Lee and junior guard Darren Taborn started as usual. Senior guard Josh Hartlett replaced Roberts in Sidney’s normal starting lineup and scored six points, all in the first quarter.
Roberts injured his foot on Tuesday against Butler and hasn’t practiced since. He entered Friday’s game in the second quarter and played in the fourth quarter.
“He was a little tender going through some warmups tonight and wasn’t quite sure,” Willoughby said of Roberts. “He didn’t feel comfortable. It was a good chance to get Josh some recognition as a senior.
“Ratez wanted to test it out and said after that it felt pretty good, so that was good to see. Josh did well …He’s a good defender and a strong defender, that’s the nice thing about Josh.”
Hartlett and Gordon each scored four points in the first four minutes to help Sidney amass a 10-0 early lead. Hudgins later finished a three-point play to increase the lead to 15-2, but the Green Wave later pulled within 19-7 after a 3-pointer by Walker.
Jones completed a three-point play and Gordon made a basket on a drive with 1:16 left to increase the lead to 24-7.
Gordon made a basket with 7:47 left in the second, then neither team scored until Sidney junior guard Dominick Durr hit a 3 from the right wing with 5:08 left to push the lead to 29-8. The Yellow Jackets led by 23 points at halftime.
Walker led Greenville with 13.