SIDNEY — Going forward, the Sidney Yellow Jackets will have to figure out how to score against zone defense.
But playing defense themselves doesn’t appear to be a problem.
Sidney scored 21 points in the opening quarter, and 23 the rest of the way after Bellefontaine switched defenses. But the Jackets played solid at the defensive end all night and it led to a 44-42 thriller in a non-league rivalry match at the high school Tuesday night.
Sidney goes to 2-0 heading into a challenging weekend, with road games at Xenia Friday and Lebanon Saturday.
“Bellefontaine played great,” said Sidney coach Andy Slaughter. “We started the game out well, but Bellefontaine never gave in. They are very well-coached, very disciplined and very fundamental. But I was proud of the way our kids fought back when we were down 40-36 with two-and-a-half minutes left. They never felt defeated. You could see it in their faces. They never felt like they were going to lose.”
Sidney had a good first half, mainly behind the long-range shooting of Cameron Gallimore, who hit four three-pointers before the intermission.
Sidney poured in 21 points in the opening quarter, with Gallimore hitting three of his treys, then hit the first bucket of the second quarter to make it 23-14. But at that point, Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly switched from a man-to-man to a 2-3 zone and it effectively slowed Sidney’s offense.
The Jackets didn’t score again in the quarter until just 1:58 remained on a bucket inside by Lorenzo Taborn. But because the Jackets continued to play well at the defensive end, when Gallimore hit his last three of the half, it gave the Jackets a 28-18 lead.
However, after the Chieftains scored to make it 28-20, Sidney ran the clock down and Gallimore was fouled. An 84 percent free throw shooter last season, he missed both attempts, and Bellefontaine was able to score at the buzzer to make it a six-point game at the break, 28-22.
Bellefontaine was down 34-25 midway through the third quarter but scored the final eight points of the period to pull within 34-33.
The Chieftains then scored first in the final period and later used a three-pointer to go up 40-36 with 4:20 remaining in the game.
But the Jackets then mounted a comeback of their own, with an 8-0 run that made it 44-40 with just 28 seconds remaining.
It started with two free throws from freshman Andre Gordon, then Gallimore came up with a steal and a layup. Taborn and Gordon hit one of two free throws each to make it a four-point game.
Bellefontaine got a free throw to make it 44-41, and with :16 left, Gordon missed the front end of the one-and-one.
Things really got interesting when Bellefontaine hit one free throw, missed the second, only to have the rebound go off Sidney. The Chieftains had one final chance, and a three-pointer bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Gallimore had 18 to lead the Jackets, and Gordon added 11. Taborn chipped in seven.
Bellefontaine’s Jacob Rogan had 27 in Bellefontaine’s win over Celina, but was held to seven Tuesday by Sidney’s Darryl McNeal.
“Darryl played 32 minutes and was stuck to Rogan the whole night,” said Slaughter. “And Rogan’s a scorer. Darryl played tremendous defense on him all night.”
Bellefontaine (42) — Nease 10, Rogan 7, Miller 6, Clement 6, Tillman 7, George 6.
Sidney (44) — Bowser 2, Gallimore 18, Taborn 7, An. Gordon 11, Rogers 6.
Score by quarters:
Bellefontaine 14 22 33 42
Sidney 21 28 34 44
Three-pointers: Sidney 4 (Gallimore 4); Bellefontaine 3 (Rogan, Clement, Tillman).
Records: Sidney 2-0, Bellefontaine 1-1.
Reserve score: Sidney 51, Bellefontaine 38.
Freshman score: Sidney 41, Bellefontaine 19.