Sidney beat a good Bellefontaine squad Tuesday night in a low-scoring contest at the high school to start off the season at 2-0. But to keep that going, the Yellow Jackets will have to be road warriors this weekend.
Coach Andy Slaughter’s squad faces a big early-season challenge, traveling to Xenia Friday night and then Lebanon Saturday afternoon for a pair of Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover games.
Both opponents are 1-0.
The Jackets built up a double-digit lead on Bellefontaine at one point in the third quarter, only to have the Chieftains come back and take a four-point lead with 2:28 remaining in the game.
But Sidney rallied back and overcame miserable free throw shooting to come away with a 44-42 victory. The Jackets were just 4-for-13 from the line, 31 percent.
“Our kids fought back,” said Slaughter after the victory. “They never felt defeated.”
He thinks this weekend will be a good barometer for his squad.
“Xenia is a real good team,” he said. “They are fast and athletic, and have three kids that are really good. They are the defending champions in the (GWOC) South and are favored again. They are long and athletic, and we’re going to have to stay under control and play at our pace. And we have to finish at the rim and hit our free throws.”
The Buccs lost two first-team all-South players from last season to graduation, but have two second-team selections returning this season in 6-foot-3 senior Rocky James and 5-11 junior Ray James.
Ray James had 19 in Xenia’s win over Beavercreek and Rocky was second behind him with 15.
The other starters for the Buccs are 6-2 freshman guard Samari Curtis, 5-11 senior guard Ryan Johnson and 6-5 senior center Danny Naylor.
The Jackets will have a quick turnaround Saturday — the varsity game is scheduled to begin around 4 p.m. after a 2:30 start to the junior varsity game. The early starting time is due to a Christmas parade that night in Lebanon. The freshman game will also start at 2:30 in the auxillary gym at Lebanon.
Lebanon comes into the game with team that lacks experience after three second-team All-South selections last season all graduated.
The Warriors opened the season with a 59-42 win over Edgewood, and they play Vandalia on Friday night.
“They’re good again even though they lost a lot of kids from last season,” said Slaughter. “They are well-coached and will play hard and get after it.
“This is a big weekend for us,” he added. “It will be a good barometer. If we can go down and compete against these two teams, we’ll feel pretty good about where we stand.”
Senior Cameron Gallimore is off to a good start, averaging 16.5 after two games. He hit four three-pointers in Tuesday night’s win.
Freshman Andre Gordon has also started well, with a 15.5 average after two games. He dished out eight assists in Sidney’s opening-night win over West Carrollton last Friday.
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818