FAIRBORN — The new-look Sidney Yellow Jackets debuted at Baker Memorial Fieldhouse in Fairborn on Tuesday. With only one returning player from last year, a debut of mostly newcomers couldn’t have gone much better.
Sidney dominated from the start and cruised to a 59-32 victory over the Skyhawks in a Miami Valley League Valley Division game. The Yellow Jackets scored the first nine points, then scored the first 11 of the second quarter to pull away early.
“We were concerned coming in, because (Fairborn) is quick as all get out,” Willoughby said. “… They crash the boards, and we were worried, because we’d struggled rebounding (so far). But I thought we did a great job tonight. We took away drives and did a great job rebounding.”
The Yellow Jackets don’t have much experience or depth this year. They lost eight seniors to graduation off last year’s team. Four players (three of which played JV last year) did not return to the program, including a two-year starter.
There are nine players on the varsity roster this year. The seven on the court on Tuesday could hardly have done better.
Sidney grabbed 45 rebounds and held Fairborn to about 20, only committed six turnovers while making seven steals and shot 75 percent from the free-throw line.
Even more impressive for Willoughby was how selflessly the team played. The squad had 18 assists, seven of which were made by senior forward Landon Davis, who is a first-year varsity player.
“I thought we played well together tonight,” Willoughby said. “I thought we made some good cuts and some good passes to each other. If we can keep that up and that sense of team and that sense of sharing the ball and being happy when someone else makes a pass, we’ll be alright.”
The selflessness was on display in one play in particular in the third quarter.
Senior guard Myles Vordemark drove inside on the baseline, then passed back out to senior forward Jaden Swiger on the right wing. Swiger passed to Vordemark in the right corner, and he took a couple of dribbles before passing to Swiger on the baseline. Swiger then drove into the basket and was double-teamed, then he passed back in the lane to an open Vordemark, who scored.
Four passes between two players in 10 seconds. One basket.
“Great stuff,” Willoughby said.
Swiger (6-foot-2) is the lone returnee. He saw significant playing time as a sophomore and started as a junior. He scored 10 points on Tuesday and grabbed seven rebounds.
Junior wing Sam Reynolds (6-2) led the squad with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Reynolds, who played some on varsity early last season, also had three assists and made two steals.
“He’s got that sense of how to play basketball,” Willoughby said of Reynolds. “Nothing taught, he just has that sense of how to play, what move to make. He’s got a variety of moves and can shoot the ball, which makes him dangerous.”
Freshman guard Julius Spradling scored 12 points and had four rebounds and three assists. Vordemark, a junior guard, scored nine points and had six rebounds and three assists. Davis (6-4) brought down 11 rebounds.
Those five players started. Senior guard Jack Davidson and junior guard Gavin Roberts played off the bench and combined to score seven points.
Senior post Jaden Scherer and sophomore wing Mitchell Davis round out the roster. Mitchell Davis, who is 6-4, is expected to see significant playing time, but is injured.
Willoughby said the group has a lot of potential.
“These guys had a good year last year on JV, and some on the freshmen team the year before,” Willoughby said. “We were pretty confident they’d be ready to play even though they don’t have a lot of varsity experience.
“I was real happy with Jack and Gavin coming off the bench. They haven’t played for a couple of years. They played when they were younger and haven’t the last couple of years. With Mitchell Davis being down, we were concerned about our depth and getting tired because of how Fairborn likes to play.
“I think we did alright. I think our stamina stayed there. I thought our two subs did exactly what they should do. That depth could be an issue, especially if Mitchell can’t play an extended period of time.”
The Yellow Jackets were scheduled to travel to archrival Piqua on Friday, but the game has been postponed due to the Indians’ long football playoff run. It has been rescheduled for Jan. 17.
Sidney’s next scheduled game is its home opener, an MVL Valley Division contest this Tuesday against Stebbins. The squad is scheduled to host Vandalia-Butler in an MVL crossover game next Friday.
Spradling hit a 3-pointer with 4:48 left in the first quarter to cap off the opening 9-0 run. Fairborn made a few baskets to cut the gap to 13-9 by the end of the quarter, including a 3 by Ty Williams at the buzzer.
But Sidney opened the second with an 11-0 run, which Reynolds capped on a basket on a drive with 3:28 left. The Yellow Jackets finished the quarter with an 18-3 scoring advantage and led 31-12 at halftime.
Sidney outscored the Skyhawks 19-10 in the third to seal the win. Fairborn finished with a 10-9 edge in the fourth.