SIDNEY — Despite Sidney’s girls basketball team’s inexperience, the Yellow Jackets haven’t had much struggles getting going. Even in losses to Miami Valley League powers Tippecanoe and Vandalia-Butler, the Yellow Jackets’ problems weren’t numerous.
There were abundant problems in an MVL matchup with Greenville on Wednesday — but they weren’t costly. After the Green Wave pulled within one point late in the third quarter, Sidney ran away to a 40-28 victory.
Though the Yellow Jackets (9-3, 7-2 MVL) lost to MVL Miami Division leader Tippecanoe by 11 points on Saturday, they statistically had a tougher night on Wednesday in a 12-point win.
The squad shot 44.7 percent from the floor against Tipp but shot 30 percent on Wednesday while also committing more turnovers and fouls than on Saturday.
“Even win’s not going to be pretty,” Sidney coach Jamal Foster said. “Some of these games you appreciate because you want to see what kind of character your team has. You want to see when there’s ups and there’s downs if they’re going to battle or give up.
“… It’s going to show how we practice and what kind of heart we have. These kinds of games are going to build character, so we need stuff like this. Every win’s not going to be a blowout.”
The Yellow Jackets played most of Wednesday without leading scorer Allie Stockton, who sat most of the game on the bench in foul trouble. They got a boost from junior guard Kelsey Kizer, who scored a season-high 13 points and also had a game-high four steals.
“We just had to keep playing, keep fighting and keep scoring,” Kizer said. “Even though one of our best scorers were out, we had to fight back and get the win.”
Junior forward Samantha Reynolds scored 11 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter to help Sidney pull away. She also had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Foster was happy to see the performance for Reynolds, who averaged 11 points in the first five games of the season but had averaged 4.1 points in the previous six outings before Wednesday.
“She’s been kind of hard on herself with how things had been going here lately, and it’s good for us to see her put some shots up,” Foster said. “When we get some interior presence with her making layups and getting to the foul line and rebounding, it brings a different dynamic for us. It’s good to see her play well. She’s a necessity for us.”
Stockton averages nearly 17 points per game but scored a season-low five. It’s the first time she’s scored less than 11 points this season.
“It was the next man up thing for us,” Foster said. “When she was in foul trouble, it was a question to the girls of, ‘What do we do? Do we bounce back, or do we sulk?’ We bounced back, and we picked her up. They kept playing when she was out, and that’s what we’ve wanted to see happen.”
Stockton, a freshman guard, picked up her third foul on a technical early in the second quarter and then picked up her fourth foul in the first 30 seconds of the third quarter. She didn’t return until the final six minutes of the game.
“Sometimes you can look at these girls’ stats and they can fool you about them being 14- or 15-years-old,” Foster said. “She was frustrated with those fouls, but that happens to everybody. You have to stay poised and figure out how you can come back in and try to help your team. She did that. Sometimes it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Sidney had a good start and finish against Greenville and struggled in the middle.
Kizer hit two early 3-pointers and scored eight points in the first quarter to help Sidney take a 10-3 lead.
But the Green Wave didn’t abandon their zone defense, and the Yellow Jackets had offensive problems after that. Their shots from beyond the arc stopped falling and they were unable to score on drives in the lane.
Stockton picked up her third foul with about six minutes left in the second and headed to the bench with Sidney holding a 12-6 lead. The teams traded baskets, and the Green Wave hit a late foul shot to pull within 14-8 at halftime.
Both squads found more offensive success in the second half. Haleigh Behnken, who led Greenville with 16 points, scored six points in the first half of the third quarter and then hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with about two minutes left to cut the gap to 21-20.
The Yellow Jackets quickly took control. Peyton Wiley hit a jumper and followed soon after with a 3 from the right corner to put Sidney ahead 26-22 at the end of the third. Reynolds also added a late basket in the third and made several free throws early in the fourth.
Kizer hit a jumper and Stockton made a 3 soon after re-entering the game to complete an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter that boosted the lead to 12 points. The teams traded shots the rest of the way.
Sidney completed its first round of MVL games against Greenville and will start its second round on Saturday when it travels to Fairborn (2-9). The Yellow Jackets, which have a five-game lead for first place in the MVL Valley Division, beat the Skyhawks 70-65 on Dec. 4 in Sidney.
The Yellow Jackets will host Bellefontaine (6-5) on Thursday in their final nonconference matchup of the season before beginning the second half of MVL play.