SIDNEY — Dominick Durr heard opinions from some before the season that Sidney’s boys basketball team would be on a downward trend this season after the loss of several starters and its all-time leading scorer.
“Honestly, I was told at the beginning of the season that we wouldn’t be a 14-win team,” Durr said.
Sidney proved again in an early-season Miami Valley League showdown on Friday that it’s still one of the Dayton-area’s best Division I teams.
The Yellow Jackets overcame an early 12-point deficit, then fought off a rally by upstart Troy to win 73-68 in overtime and stay undefeated in front of a near sellout crowd.
With the victory, Sidney keeps its lead in the MVL Valley Division. The Yellow Jackets (6-0, 6-0 MVL) are the last undefeated MVL team and have a one-game lead over Stebbins and West Carrollton in Valley Division standings.
“As you can see, we’re 6-0, baby,” Durr, who hit several key shots, said after Friday’s win. “It feels great. We like to work.”
The win caps off a gutsy week by Sidney. The Yellow Jackets rallied from an early deficit to beat rival Vandalia-Butler last Friday, then fought off a challenge from Xenia to win by four points on the road on Tuesday.
“We have some returning players, but not a lot of them have experience in games like this,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “Being able to get through two or three of these types of games says a lot about the boys. They’re gaining that experience and gaining that confidence.”
The loss broke a three-game winning streak for Troy (5-2, 4-2), which entered Friday tied for first place in the MVL Miami Division with Tippecanoe. The Trojans are enjoying their best start in eight seasons under first-year coach Mark Hess, who previously coached at Beavercreek.
The win is the eighth straight for the Yellow Jackets over Troy. The Trojans haven’t won a matchup with Sidney since Feb. 9, 2016.
“The two teams know each other; the players know each other,” Willoughby said. “… (Troy’s players) have been up to our open gyms and stuff like that in the summer.
“That’s neat, but when it’s time to compete, you compete and don’t do the, ‘I’m going to show you up,’ type of thing. That got us in trouble early, but eventually we got out of that.”
Sidney trailed 29-17 midway through the second quarter but battled back to close the gap to 31-30 by halftime and took the lead early in the third. The teams traded leads throughout the second half, but Sidney led for most of the fourth quarter.
After a missed free throw that could have extended the lead to four points, Troy got the rebound and junior guard Shaeden Olden hit a 3-pointer while falling down at the buzzer to send it to overtime to the frustration of Willoughby and Sidney’s players.
“I had to regroup myself, because I really didn’t want to go into overtime,” Willoughby said. “Give credit to (Olden); it was a good shot. It was a throw, but he made it. I gave myself about 20 seconds in the huddle of being mad, and then I had to get over it.”
There was a bit of anger on the court from Sidney’s players after the shot, but Durr said the team quickly refocused.
“Darren (Taborn) was a little upset after that, but we told him to keep his head in the game, and everybody stuck there head in the game, and we played in control,” Durr said. “(Troy) ended up getting a technical and had their head out of the game. We kept our heads in the game and dug in.”
Sidney was able to capitalize on several foul calls in overtime to quickly take the lead.
Jaden Owens opened overtime with a basket to give Troy a 61-59 lead but Durr and sophomore forward Jaden Swiger combined to hit 5-of-6 free-throw attempts over the next 90 seconds to give Sidney a 64-61 lead.
“I shoot free throws every day to prepare myself for moments like this,” Durr said. “Same with Jaden. Every day in practice, coach tells us to be quiet and shoot free throws, and that helps.”
Troy later tied it again on a three-point play by Owens, but sophomore guard Devin Taborn then hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:10 left to give Sidney 67-64 lead.
“He’s not shy, and he always tells me that, ‘When I get over half court and I’m open, I’m shooting it,’” Willoughby said. “Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not, but he’s getting better at picking the spots. He had one on the wing from deep that was bad.
“We took him out soon after, I told him I didn’t like that (shot), but he gave me that look like he’d shoot it again. He’s confident, and he hit that big one. We’re getting the trust down a little better.”
Troy twice cut the gap to one point, but Durr hit a basket with 18 seconds left to put Sidney ahead 71-68. Olden missed a 3 on Troy’s next possession, then Avante Martin hit two foul shots to close it out.
“We fought really hard,” Durr said. “We struggled early but we picked it up. We got it down to one (at halftime) and went into the locker room and just said, ‘Keep fighting, keep fighting.’ We knew on the bench in overtime that we’ve got this.
“Everybody’s tired, though. It was hard-fought, and I’m glad we won.”
Devin Taborn led Sidney with 16 points while Darren Taborn scored 15 and Swiger finished with 14. Both Durr and Trey Werntz each added eight. Werntz led the team with 10 rebounds.
“We made some nice passes there late to the right people when they’re open,” Willoughby said. “We had a lot of guys step up. Avante came in and had a good defensive effort even though he didn’t play as much as he has. That’s what we ask of our players; they’ll get their time. I thought our subs played really well.
“… I think our depth is a big key for us. We’re able to find people that can play that night, and we let them play. I’m pleased. It’s nice for this group. I’m real happy for them, and I’m glad the crowd came out to see it.”
Willoughby credited Durr with playing well, especially after getting in early foul trouble. Durr, a senior guard, is one of several returnees that is taking on a bigger role this season after the graduation of five players from last season’s 20-win squad.
Durr has started five of Sidney’s six games and is averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and two steals per game.
“I’m loving it,” Durr said. “I just want to be a floor general and win games. I just want to make sure my teammates are in the right spot and get the ball to them.”
Olden led Troy with 20 while Tre Archie scored 18 and Owens scored 14.
Troy led by as many as 12 points in the first half but Sidney battled back to close the gap to 31-30 at halftime.
Darren Taborn hit a basket with 5:56 left in the third quarter to tie it 33-33, and Durr followed with a basket to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead since early in the first at 35-33. Troy quickly retook the lead on a three-point play by Andrew Holley, and the teams traded buckets throughout the rest of the quarter.
Devin Taborn made a 3-pointer from the left wing with 25 seconds left in the third to give Sidney a 49-47 lead heading into the fourth. Troy twice took the lead after that, including on a pair of free throws by Olden with 3:30 left that put the Trojans ahead 55-53.
Lathan Jones made a basket and Werntz hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Sidney a 56-55 lead with 2:22 left. Jones later hit a basket to increase the lead to 58-55 with 1:03 left.
Jones split a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to put Sidney ahead 59-56, but Olden hit a 3 from the right wing just before the buzzer to tie it and send it to overtime.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Willoughby said. “Coach Hess has dome a nice job with them. Their defense is really good.”
Troy jumped out fast early thanks in part to tough defense. Owens made a basket to give the Trojans an 8-3 lead with 3:50 left, and Landyn Henry hit a basket two minutes later to increase it to 14-7.
The Yellow Jackets closed out the quarter with an 8-4 run, which Martin capped with a 3 from the right corner with 36 seconds left to close the deficit to 17-15 heading into the second.
Troy’s defense shut down Sidney in the first half of the second, as the Yellow Jackets could barely get a shot off that wasn’t deflected or outright blocked.
“If you’re being defended well, just because you make a move doesn’t necessarily mean you’re open,” Willoughby said. “We just tried to stress that if you’ve got two guys on you inside, you did a good job of getting that, now look for the open guy.”
The Trojans’ hot shooting continued. Henry made a 3 from the top of the key with 7:45 left and Archie followed with a 3 from the right wing with 6:18 left to push the lead to 23-15.
Troy later took a 29-17 lead on a pair of Owens free throws with about five minutes left, but the Yellow Jackets clamped down on defense the rest of the half and got their offense going to climb back before halftime.
Devin Taborn made a basket to close the gap to 31-26 and then made a pair of free throws after a technical foul with about a minute left to close the gap to three points.
Swiger made a basket with 33 seconds left to cut Sidney’s deficit to 31-30. Austin Stanaford stole the ball from Swiger and nearly scored a layup to end the quarter, but the basket was ruled to be after the buzzer.
Sidney will take a break from MVL play over the holidays and will face two Central Buckeye Conference teams in nonleague play. The Yellow Jackets will play next on Friday when they host Bellefontaine and will travel to Tecumseh on Saturday.
Troy will also take a break from league play next week. The Trojans will host Middletown on Monday and Springfield Shawnee on Friday.