SIDNEY — Wayne has been the class of Division I basketball in Dayton this decade, with several district championships, regional final appearances and a 2015 state title to its credit.
Sidney is hoping to get to Wayne’s level this season and win a district championship, which have been rare in the program’s history.
After Saturday, the Yellow Jackets know they’re at the Warriors’ level this season.
Sidney pulled off its second improbable come-from-behind overtime victory in as many weeks by rallying to beat Wayne 77-73 in a marquee nonconference matchup between the two Greater Western Ohio Conference powers.
It was the sixth consecutive win for the Yellow Jackets (7-1), which rallied from an 11-point deficit on Dec. 18 to beat Vandalia-Butler 51-46 on the road.
“I think these guys are gutsy,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said of his squad. “… I can’t say enough about them all. A couple of times this year, it seems like we’ve been dead, but we’ve come back and pulled them out. I think that says a lot about us.”
Virginia Tech commit Andre Gordon hit the 30-point mark for the 12th time in his career by scoring 34 against the Warriors. Gordon, a senior guard, made 7-of-8 free-throw attempts in overtime to help the Yellow Jackets clinch the win.
“Sidney’s on the map,” Gordon said. “We’ve got athletes and kids that can play basketball. We’re not underrated any more. We’re right there, and we’re ready to make a run in the tournament.”
Senior forward Ratez Roberts scored 19 points, brought down 13 rebounds and had three blocks. He fouled out late in the fourth quarter, at which point Wayne coach Nathan Martindale breathed a sigh of relief.
“He was the one that really hurt us,” Martindale said. “Going into the game, we thought we had a great game plan for him, but he really had a great game. When he fouled out, I felt good, because I thought we really had a chance to stop them.
“He really exposed us tonight and had a great game. I think that one-two combo really helped Sidney get the win.”
And as big as Gordon and Roberts’ points were, baskets by Keith Lee and Darren Taborn brought Sidney back and put them ahead in overtime.
A 25-foot 3-pointer by Lee tied it 65-65 with three seconds left and forced overtime. Taborn scored a layup after a steal to put Sidney ahead in overtime and then followed by making 1-of-2 free throws to increase the advantage to three points.
“We had to come out and play with more heart,” Taborn said. “The bigger dog wins, and that’s what we did. We came out and we out-rebounded them and put points up.”
If the Butler win was improbable because the Yellow Jackets were down 11 with less than three minutes left in the game, Saturday’s comeback was improbable because they had squandered a lead late in the fourth quarter and had to rally with Roberts was on the bench.
It took a near-miracle shot.
Wayne rallied to take a one-point lead with a pair of Tallice Landers free throws with 3:38 left in the fourth and increased their advantage to as many as four down the stretch.
Rashad McKee hit a pair of free throws with 32 seconds left to push Wayne’s lead to 65-62. Sidney missed two shots attempts in the paint on its next possession, and the Warriors grabbed the rebound. Roberts fouled Cam Fancher with 14 seconds left and went to the bench due to fouling out.
Fancher missed a 1-and-1 opportunity, and Sidney called a timeout with 11.7 seconds left.
The Yellow Jackets inbounded the ball at half court to Gordon, who threw it back to Lee. Lee dribbled to the right wing and threw a pass in the corner to Trey Werntz, who pulled up for a 3 but passed after being pressured by Wayne 6-foot-5 forward Bobby Cole.
Lee dribbled around McKee and fired a 3 from about 25 feet back on the right wing, and it went in nothing-but-net with three seconds left.
“He practices those all the time,” Willoughby said of Lee’s shot. “We had it set up that we were going to run a sprint screen for Andre, and the two defenders may hesitate on who they were going to cover, and Keith was going to pop out for the 3, and we had Trey Werntz in the corner in case they rotated.
“They did a great job recovering on defense — they’re quick, man. Trey couldn’t get his shot up and got it to Keith, and he took a dribble and a step back and hit it.”
Gordon missed a shot on Sidney’s first overtime possession and McKee rebounded, but Taborn ran up from behind near half court, stole the ball, and then dribbled back and made a layup with pressure from two defenders with 3:28 left.
“I think that was a good momentum boost for me and made me push harder and faster,” Taborn said. “That’s what we like to do.”
He made 1-of-2 foul shots with 2:01 left to increase the lead to 68-65 and later made 2-of-2 with 20 seconds left to push the lead to 72-68.
The Yellow Jackets made 10-of-12 free-throw attempts in overtime after making 10-of-18 in the first half.
“Make them when they count,” Taborn said. “… We’re good in overtime. We come together and play as a team. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Though the Warriors (5-4) had a slow start to the season, they looked to have turned a corner entering Saturday’s matchup. They had won their last three games by beating a pair of squads with at least five wins (Trotwood-Madison and Miamisburg) and rallying to beat rival Centerville.
On Friday, Wayne rallied to beat previously undefeated Trotwood 91-88 in overtime.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Martindale said. “Last night we win in overtime, and tonight we don’t. So I just give Sidney all the credit.”
Taborn added eight rebounds for Sidney while Gordon had six. The Yellow Jackets finished with 36 team rebounds, 28 of which came on the defensive end.
“We battled on the boards, and that’s been a downfall of ours all year,” Willoughby said. “I thought we battled on the boards both offensively and defensively as hard as (Wayne) did.”
McKee led Wayne with 20 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Gordon defended McKee for much of the game, and Willoughby said Gordon’s improved defensive effort in the second half was a big key to the win.
“I had to lock up (after the first half),” Gordon said.
Sidney went on a 9-2 run over the last four minutes of the second quarter to take a 32-29 halftime lead. Roberts made basket with 4:42 left in the third to put Sidney up 38-32, but the Warriors scored the next seven points to take a one-point lead.
Gordon gave Sidney a 48-46 lead with a dunk with 1:04 left. The teams then traded the lead until Landers’ free throws late in the fourth.
But the Warriors’ couldn’t hold on. They committed several costly fouls down the stretch — including two technicals in the second half — and missed five foul shots in the fourth quarter.
“I was frustrated that we had a chance to hit a free throw and take care of our business there and end it, but you miss a free throw and give someone a chance to hit a 3, and they did,” Martindale said. “Give Sidney credit. They played a great last 14 seconds there and in overtime.
“… (Gordon) is a great player, and late in the game, if you allow a guy like that to get the ball in his hands, he’s going to take the game over, and he did. He’s a hard guy to stop one-on-one. If we handled our business it would have been different, but you give the ball to Dre, and it’s a whole lot different.”
Hampton finished with 19 points while Landers finished with 16, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Wayne led most of the first half but Sidney took the lead before halftime.
The Warriors jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first four minutes and led 17-13 at the end of the first quarter. Hudgins and Werntz opened the second with baskets for Sidney to tie it 17-17, but McKee scored three 3-pointers over the next two minutes to help the Warriors take a 26-21 lead with 5:11 left.
McKee made a free throw to increase the lead to 27-23 with 4:33 left. Roberts made a 3 from the left corner to cut the deficit to one, but Cole made a basket to increase the advantage to three points with 3:55 left.
Wayne didn’t score the rest of the half. Roberts made a basket, then Gordon made a short jumper with 2:45 left to give Sidney its first lead of the game at 30-29. Gordon added a layup after a steal in the final minute of the quarter to push the lead to three points at halftime.
Sidney’s next game is Friday at West Carrollton. Wayne plays next on Friday at Northmont.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.