SIDNEY — After playing with a more of a run-and-gun look through the first half of the season, Sidney is learning to play at a slower pace. Not by choice.
Teams are playing zone defenses against the Yellow Jackets in hopes of limiting scoring drive opportunities and second-chance looks. Though Sidney played largely lethargic against zone defenses a few weeks ago, they showed improvement on Wednesday against Piqua by making numerous quick passes.
But for as well as Sidney worked the ball and found good shooting opportunities, one problem remained against the Indians: making the shots.
Despite forcing archrival Piqua into 19 turnovers in a Miami Valley League game on Wednesday, Sidney shot about 30 percent from the field and had too many long scoreless streaks that proved costly in a 42-36 loss.
“Going into the second round (of MVL play), we know everybody’s not going to do the same things against us,” Sidney coach Jamal Foster said. “The way we play, the way we defend, we know teams don’t want to run with us for four quarters.
“It’s up to us as a coaching staff to prepare them for the zone coming. We’ve been working in practice to improve at it and have, but we’ve got to go one game at a time and keep getting better.”
The Yellow Jackets (11-4, 8-3 MVL) trailed for most of the game but took the lead midway through the third. Kelsey Kizer made a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Sidney its largest lead of the night at 34-29 lead with 4:57 left in the fourth quarter.
That was the last field goal the team made. The Indians (10-4, 7-4) finished the game with a 13-2 scoring advantage, thanks in part to limiting turnovers and strong defensive rebounding that prohibited Sidney from getting any late second-chance opportunities.
“Piqua did a good job of cleaning up the glass,” Sidney coach Jamal Foster said. “They’ve got some girls on the interior that are pretty good. They have a high motor and they rebound well.
“Physically, they played harder than us tonight. They were more poised and they turned the ball over less in key moments. You’ve got to take your hat off for them. When you play that style for four quarters, you give yourself a chance to win. They did a good job.”
Sidney, which beat Piqua 49-40 on the road on Dec. 6, trailed 10-4 at the end of the first quarter after missing several close-range shots. Cassidy Truesdale scored a late basket after a steal to bring the squad within 15-12 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets got going on offense in the third thanks in part to freshman guard Allie Stockton, who scored nine of her 14 points in the quarter. She made consecutive jumpers to give Sidney a 22-20 lead with 1:45 left and Peyton Wiley hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 23 seconds left to increase the advantage to 27-25.
Wiley and Kizer hit 3s in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to five points, but Piqua contained the Yellow Jackets the rest of the way.
Piqua 6-foot-0 sophomore forward Aubree Schrubb, who had a game-high 18 rebounds, made a putback to close the gap to 34-31 and had an assist on a basket by Karley Johns to close the gap to two points.
Kizer, who finished with 10 points, split a pair of free throws to put Sidney ahead 35-33 with 3:07 left. Tayler Grunkemeyer and Schrubb each made 1-of-2 foul shots soon after, then Tylah Yeomans scored with 1:59 left to put Piqua ahead 37-35.
Grunkemeyer split to pairs of foul shots in the last minute to put Piqua ahead 39-35. Yeomans, who scored a game-high 21 points, made a put-back with 30 seconds left to increase the lead to 41-35.
“We have lapses on our offense that we need to work on,” Foster said. “We’ll get back to practice and really work on our half-court set. When shots won’t fall, you’ve got to get after it and get it done.
“… We’re still inexperienced, and I haven’t lost any confidence in them because of one game. We’ve just got to get back to the lab, get back to practice. This is a part of the game. As frustrating as it is — no one wants to lose to their rival on the home court — it happens. How do we recover? It’s up to us.”
Sidney will continue MVL play on Saturday when it hosts Stebbins.
The victory earned half point for Piqua in the Piqua vs. Sidney all-sports trophy competition. It’s the first point the school has earned in winter sports.
It’s the third year for the trophy, which Sidney has won the last two years. The competition is determined by a points system that awards points based on head-to-head matchups between teams at the two schools. In sports like football where Piqua and Sidney teams play once a season, one point is awarded. In sports where teams play twice, .5 points are awarded.
After Wednesday’s game, Sidney maintains an 8-6.5 lead. Another half point is up for grabs on Friday when the school’s boys basketball teams will play in Sidney.