TIPP CITY — If there were any lingering doubts, they were answered in the first half on Wednesday: Sidney is the team to beat in the Miami Valley League.
The Yellow Jackets ran away quickly to a 57-31 win over Tippecanoe to further boost their lead in MVL standings.
Sidney (8-2, 8-0 MVL Valley) is in first place in overall standings. Vandalia-Butler (8-1, 6-1), which Sidney beat 46-30 on Dec. 7, is in second ahead of West Carrollton (7-4, 6-2) and Tipp (7-3, 6-2).
The Yellow Jackets have beaten all MVL opponents by double-digit margins and aside from Butler have had a running clock in the second half of all wins (Tipp narrowed the gap under 30 early in the fourth quarter on Wednesday to stop the running clock by game’s end).
Tippecanoe, which had won four straight and hadn’t lost by more than 18 points, couldn’t stop Sidney’s offense and struggled to move the ball.
The Yellow Jackets are averaging 17 steals per game.
“We just keep building, game after game, performance after performance, as to how we can play on the defensive end,” Sidney coach Jamal Foster said. “We’re going to continue with that being our identity. It’s not going to go anywhere. I was proud of the way they played.”
Sidney scored the first 13 points, led 15-2 at the end of the first quarter and used a 25-6 scoring edge in the second to take a 40-8 halftime lead.
“We’re playing really good defense,” Sidney sophomore guard Jordan Scully said. “We’re playing as a team. We were throwing the balls ahead and making good passes. We hit the open shots.”
Scully scored all 14 of her points in the first half to help the squad amass the lead.
She normally plays as a shooting guard but plays some at point guard, too. She became accustomed to playing point guard last year due to teammates’ injuries.
“It’s definitely gotten easier from last year to this year,” Scully said. “It’s just taken a little bit of time to get both (positions) down.”
Scully averages 10.7 points per game and is the squad’s second leading scorer behind senior guard Allie Stockton, who averages 16.4 points per game.
Scully’s scoring took a bit of a dip earlier this month when she scored five points in three consecutive games. She has now scored 14 in two consecutive games.
“I see her day after day wanting to get better,” Foster said. “She wants to compete. She’s clearly someone who can make shots from the perimeter, but she wants to show more. Getting to the basket, getting to the foul line, showing that she’s a capable defender.
“I’ve seen strides overall in her game. And she’s a gym rat. It’s been great to see her bounce back after that slump. Really, really proud of the way she’s playing, and going into 2023 and the second half of this season, her confidence is only going to keep growing.”
Scully said she’s focused on trying to be more active on the defensive end this year and help the squad force more turnovers.
“I’m trying to always make sure I’m looking help side and force people the right direction (to dribble) and keep them in front of me,” Scully said.
Sidney’s defensive intensity came from six players on Wednesday. Junior guard Kimora Johnson, who has been a valuable player off the bench, was unable to play.
That left the five starters (Scully, Stockton, Regan Clark, Larkyn Vordemark and Lexee Brewer) and Kelis McNeal in the squad’s rotation.
“It speaks to how hard they work in practice,” Foster said. “Kimora was coming in and really bringing energy off the bench. Missing her tonight was something we were worried about, but everyone else stepped it up.”
Tipp finished with a 12-10 advantage in the third quarter and 11-7 advantage in the fourth. Foster said maintaining intensity in the second half of contests is something the squad is going to work on.
“We’ve got to finish better, even with big leads,” Foster said. “We still have to be confident and aggressive, and we have to be sharp.”
Wednesday’s victory was the seventh consecutive for Sidney, which won’t play again until New Year’s Eve, when it is scheduled to host Tri-Village at 11:45 a.m.
The Patriots were off to a 9-0 start entering a game scheduled for Thursday evening, with seven wins coming by margins of over 30 points.
Tri-Village beat Sidney 59-31 last year.
“I think if we just keep playing how we’ve been playing defensively and offensively, we’ll be good,” Scully said.