SIDNEY — Sidney wrapped up the Miami Valley League Valley Division title last week but got a reminder on Wednesday it’s not invincible — and likely won’t be against tough opponents in tournament play early next month.
Despite a height differential that was escalated by playing without one of their top post players, the Yellow Jackets got plenty of offensive rebounds and shot opportunities in an MVL crossover game against Troy.
Sidney had a sixth defender to deal with at times, though — the rim. Many seemingly good shots rolled, bounced or found other ways to get out without falling in.
Those missed shots were costly against the surging Trojans, which held off Sidney to earn a 49-42 win in front a crowd that packed the open side of the gym.
“A lot of the looks we got were looks we like,” Sidney coach Jamal Foster said. “We just have to make them. We have to convert a little better on the offensive end. I feel like we really didn’t do that too well.”
Sidney (14-5, 11-4 MVL Valley) beat the Trojans 47-42 on Dec. 21 in Troy thanks in part to getting 15 steals. The Yellow Jackets got about half that number on Wednesday, as Troy sophomore guard Macie Taylor was dependable bringing the ball up the floor.
Though Sidney had plenty of good shot opportunities in the post, Troy 6-foot-0 senior forward Tia Bass proved to be a tough defender.
Bass had a game-high 20 rebounds, including several offensive rebounds that led to second- and third-chance points. She had less resistance in the post compared to the squad’s first matchup due to Sidney playing without starting senior forward Hallie Truesdale.
Bass and Taylor each scored 21 points.
“Troy’s a solid team,” Foster said. “We knew they were well-coached and they were going to make some adjustments. I think we just wish more shots would have went in tonight.
“The second time around is always the toughest. I think the tempo changed from that first (game). There was a little less zone in the first game and a little more zone in this game.”
Foster said it should be a good reminder for the team not to be complacent, especially as the start of the tournament looms. Seeding meetings for all Southwest Ohio teams will occur on Sunday and the first games are scheduled for Feb. 13.
The upstart Yellow Jackets, which were winless last year and won two games the previous season, will likely earn a seed in the top third of the 20-team Dayton Division I sectional.
That doesn’t guarantee the squad many — or any — games against teams with losing records. Twelve of the sectional’s teams have at least 10 wins as of Thursday. Among those squads is Troy (11-7, 10-5 MVL Miami), which won its sixth in a row on Wednesday.
“I’m excited,” Foster, a first-year coach, said of the seeding meeting. “I’ve never known what it’s like. Going into it, we really don’t know what to expect to get seeding-wise. We’ve done our job in the regular season to let the chips fall where they may as far as seeding goes.
“Wherever we draw or land or go, we just want to be able to go out there and put the best product on the floor. We’re not going to run from anybody. We’re just going to do what we do best, no matter if it’s the regular season or the tournament.”
The Yellow Jackets, which secured the MVL Valley Division title with a win over Vandalia-Butler last Wednesday, will continue league play on Saturday when they host West Carrollton. It will be the team’s final home game of the season.
Aside from honoring the team’s seniors, Foster said it will be a good opportunity to celebrate the team’s improvement and divisional title.
“The turnaround they’re having is based on the effort they’ve put in,” Foster said. “They’ve been trying hard and had been acceptable to coaching. Going out on the floor and playing harder, it’s a reflection of what they do every day.”
Sidney will wrap up regular season play next week when it travels to Miami Division leader Tippecanoe on Wednesday and Greenville on Saturday.
Sidney freshman guard Allie Stockton scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the first quarter to help the Yellow Jackets take a 12-10 lead. Bass and Taylor combined to score the first six points of the second and continued their hot shooting to help the Trojans take a 27-25 halftime lead.
Taylor opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, then Laura Borchers made a 3 to give the squad an eight-point lead.
Sidney battled back later in the quarter after Peyton Wiley hit consecutive 3s but Bass made a putback and Taylor made a basket to give Troy a 38-31 lead.
Lexee Brewer scored a layup after a steal in the final 30 seconds to bring Sidney within 38-33, but the squad came no closer than five points in the fourth quarter. They were hampered late in the game by Bass, who grabbed rebounds to end Sidney’s last five possessions.
“She’s a physical player with a good motor,” Foster said of Bass. “A player like that is someone you have to key on. You just have to try your best at it. We went with some adjustments we thought was going to help.
“I don’t have any regrets with what we tried to do. It’s just tough; you can’t really stop players like her, you can just slow her down a little bit. She just had a good night.”
Stockton had seven rebounds while junior forward Samantha Reynolds scored eight points and had a team-high nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Peyton Wiley had nine points and six rebounds.
Some Sidney fans, players and coaches wore Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers merchandise on Wednesday to honor the NBA legend, who died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter on Sunday on the way to a youth basketball event. The program also gave out cookies with Bryant’s NBA jersey numbers.
“I think the basketball world is wearing heavy hearts right now,” Foster said. “Everyone from our coaching staff to the girls, we had watery eyes come Monday, losing someone so iconic who was an advocate of women’s basketball.
“I feel like what we did today in the gym is just a small portion of what he means to the world.”