SIDNEY — Sidney played sloppily through much of a Miami Valley League game on Friday with multiple unforced turnovers, missed close-range shots and fouls.
But the Yellow Jackets were able to survive their mistakes to earn their ninth consecutive victory over archrival Piqua.
Sidney fought off several rally attempts by Piqua and secured things late to earn a 73-65 victory in front of a nearly sold-out gymnasium.
“It was a little sloppy,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “We tried to get the tempo up a little bit. We thought that would have been to our advantage, but you have to give Piqua a lot of credit. I thought they played really well tonight. We knew coming in that they were much improved from the beginning of the year.”
The Yellow Jackets (12-1, 10-1 MVL) completed a season sweep of Piqua with the victory. They beat the Indians 69-50 in a matchup on Dec. 6 in Piqua.
It’s the ninth consecutive victory for Sidney over Piqua (6-8, 4-7). The Indians haven’t beaten the Yellow Jackets since Dec. 18, 2015. Sidney won the second matchup between the two that season and has won each matchup the last four seasons.
Sidney’s senior class will leave without ever having lost to Piqua, which senior guard Trey Werntz said is a nice legacy.
“It’s always good when you beat your rival,” Werntz said. “It keeps the team going. It’s always close, and they always play us good even if they have a bad record.”
Werntz led Sidney with a career-high 21 points and shot 9 for 11 at the free-throw line. The rest of his points came on four 3-pointers.
“I just had the hot hand tonight,” Werntz said. “… We have a lot of guys who can score and usually keep it all balanced, everybody scores 10. But I just had the hot hand tonight, and they just kept feeding me.”
Werntz, who is a third-year varsity player, has been one of the Yellow Jackets’ most consistent players. He averages 6.9 points per game and averages 4.5 rebounds.
Werntz also had a team-high 10 rebounds and three steals on Friday.
“He got more (shot) attempts up today, which was good,” Willoughby said. “Especially against the zone (defenses), we’ve been trying to get our guards to look for him a little bit more, because he’s standing open. He’s one of our top two shooters, if not our top.
“… He’s been a consistent player for us all season. He’s steady, knows what to do with the ball. Defensively he’s been outstanding and rebounding-wise he’s been a real glue for us, and he doesn’t get a lot of recognition for that. He’s been outstanding all year with his grittiness.”
Darren Taborn added 11 points while Lathan Jones and Devin Taborn each scored nine and Avante Martin scored eight. Dominick Durr, Jones and Jaden Swiger each had five rebounds. Durr also had four assists and two steals and Jones had three blocks. The squad shot 24 for 57 (42.1 percent) from the field and 17 for 26 from the free-throw line.
Sidney led 38-30 at halftime but couldn’t pull out any further in the third quarter.
Werntz hit a 3 from the left wing with 7:18 left to put Sidney ahead 41-33 but the Indians scored the next six points, with the last four coming on layups by Piqua freshman guard Dresean Roberts.
Darren Taborn hit a basket and Martin followed with a pair of free throws to give Sidney a 45-39 lead with 5:09 left, and the teams traded points to a 52-46 score by the end of the third.
Garrett Schrubb opened the third quarter with a three-point play to bring Piqua within 52-49, but the Yellow Jackets went on a 9-0 run after that to put the game away.
Camden Vordemark hit a 3 from the left wing with 6:55 left to give Sidney a six-point lead. Devin Taborn made a basket, Swiger hit a mid-range jumper and Taborn made a layup after a steal to put Sidney ahead 61-49 with 6:00 left.
Piqua didn’t pull within nine points until Schrubb made a three-point play with one second left to cut the final gap to eight points.
“I thought we played in spurts a little too much tonight instead of playing a consistent, good game,” Willoughby said. “We probably went on four good spurts that kept us in the lead.”
Piqua quickly racked up fouls early in the first half, and Werntz hit two pairs of free throws in a 15-second span to give Sidney a 15-7 lead with 2:29 left.
Despite numerous Piqua turnovers and other free-throw opportunities, Sidney struggled to extend the lead the rest of the first half.
Vordemark hit a baseline jumper with 40 seconds left in the first to give Sidney a 20-13 lead but Iverson Ventura opened the second quarter with a three-point play to pull Piqua within three points.
After the teams traded baskets to a 25-22 score, Sidney went on a 9-0 run in the last half of the second quarter. Devin Taborn had a put-back and deep 3 and Darren Taborn had a layup during the run, which was capped with a basket by Dominick Durr with 2:11 left.
The Indians responded with a 7-0 run that was capped by a basket by Roberts to pull within 34-29 with 1:32 left.
After the teams traded free throws, Darren Taborn hit a 3 from the top of the key at the buzzer to give Sidney a 38-30 halftime lead.
Roberts, who scored one point in the team’s first matchup, led Piqua with 21 points. Schrubb scored 19, all of which came in the second half.
“We played good defense overall, but we let their guards penetrate a little too much,” Willoughby said. “We dropped stepped instead of cutting off the drive, and they were able to get to the lane a little more than what we like.”
Sidney will host Northmont in a nonconference game on Tuesday. The Thunderbolts entered a nonconference game against Meadowdale on Friday with a 1-10 record.
“We’ve got a tough stretch coming, but I think we’re ready,” Werntz said. “In some ways, I think the Tipp loss was good for us. It made us think about what we’re doing, work harder in practice. I think we’re ready to go for these next few games.”
The victory earned a half point for the Yellow Jackets in the Piqua vs. Sidney all-sports trophy competition. It’s the third year for the trophy, which Sidney has won the last two years.
After Wednesday’s game, Sidney maintains an 9.5-6.5 lead.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.