SIDNEY — Xenia’s Samari Curtis and Andre Gordon embraced outside of Sidney’s locker room after a Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover matchup on Tuesday, joked about their point totals and traded notes about Piqua, the Buccaneers’ next opponent.
“It’s great seeing him,” Gordon said of seeing his former C2K Elite AAU teammate. “It was super fun. We were joking on the court and stuff like that, but when the ball gets down, it’s time to play.”
The two senior guard Division I commits played hard as usual and provided showings of steals, deep 3-pointers, dunks and more.
But Curtis had to carry a much bigger scoring load than Gordon — too big of a load to keep the game close.
Sidney — which was just outside the top 10 in Division I in the first Associated Press state poll of the season — defeated the Buccaneers 80-70 to earn their eighth consecutive victory.
Xenia (5-5, 3-3 GWOC American South) has given up an average of over 69 points per game this season, and Sidney had no problem scoring its highest amount of the season.
While the Buccaneers rely heavily Curtis (a Cincinnati commit) to run their high-scoring offense, Sidney showed it’s far from a similar one-man show with Gordon (a Virginia Tech commit). The Yellow Jackets built a 17-9 in the first quarter before Gordon ever scored.
“I just like to get my other guys open,” Gordon said. “I know people like to key on me, so I’m going to get mine when I’m open and play my role and get people open the rest of the time.”
Gordon got his later in the game and finished with 32 points, which is the third time this season he’s hit or surpassed the 30-point mark.
“It’s always fun playing him,” Curtis said. “… They were getting out and running a lot. Dre had them running good.”
Curtis averages 30 points per game and far surpassed that with a 47-point outpouring. He said afterwards the team’s largely young cast that surrounds him is still trying to find its role.
“We’re just trying to get them rolling with us,” Curtis said.
Sidney coach John Willoughby credited Curtis’ shooting and playing ability but thought Sidney could have done a better job defensively.
“There was a good stretch there where we defended him well, but we may have only defended him well for about a six-minute stretch,” Willoughby said of Curtis. “He’s tough, and he gets a lot of fouls called him and did tonight. We got frustrated some because we were thinking we were playing pretty good D, but then would get a foul called.”
The Yellow Jackets (9-1, 7-0 GWOC North) finished the second quarter on a 13-6 run to take a 45-34 halftime at halftime. Josiah Hudgins opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and Sidney maintained a 14-point lead through the end of the third.
Darren Taborn and Ratez Roberts hit 1-of-2 free throws early in the fourth to increase the lead to 64-48, then Gordon made consecutive baskets in an eight-second span to put the Yellow Jackets ahead by 20 points with 6:24 left.
The Buccaneers went on a 14-4 run over the last three minutes to narrow the final gap to 10 — which didn’t make Willoughby happy.
“It should have ended up a 25-point game there if we’d have been getting and hitting some free throws,” Willoughby said. “Every time we touched the ball there, we felt like we’d have to do something special. That’s happened in games like this. We’ve got to work on that.”
Sidney jumped ahead early. Taborn hit consecutive baskets to give the Yellow Jackets a 15-8 lead with 3:26 left in the first, then Roberts made a layup after a steal to push the lead to 17-9 a minute later.
Sidney led 22-15 at the end of the first and scored the first five points of the second to boost the lead to 12 points. Trey Werntz hit a basket with 6:34 left to increase the lead to 29-15, but Curtis led the Buccaneers to a 13-3 run over the next two minutes to cut the gap to four points.
The Yellow Jackets finished on a big run to push the lead back to double digits by halftime. Hudgins and Gordon hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Sidney a 38-28 lead with 2:47 left. Roberts finished the half by making a put-back off a missed Gordon shot at the buzzer to increase the lead to 11.
“We had a variety of kids hit some jumpers tonight,” Willoughby said. “Josiah and Darren hit early, Andre hit early. We’re a good shooting team, and we haven’t had a chance to show that a lot this year.
“… We had a little bit more emphasis on the defensive boards after the first quarter ended. That’s the only way they were scoring, offensive boards. Once we concentrated on the boards, we played better, and that’s when we got the lead. Stop them, get the rebound and come down and score, that’s how you get the lead.”
Hudgins finished with 15 for Sidney while Taborn finished with 12. Five other players scored.
Sidney will play next on Saturday at home against Wapakoneta, which was 7-2 entering a Tuesday game against Bluffton.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.