SIDNEY — Sidney senior guard Darren Taborn hasn’t minded his role as dominant scorer has subsided as the team has become more of an ensemble. When the wins keep coming and your brother is scoring more, there’s not much reason to mind.
The Yellow Jackets had another balanced scoring effort in a 70-56 victory over struggling Northmont in a nonconference game on Tuesday. Taborn leads the team with an average of 12.9 points per game and was one of five players that scored nine or more against the Thunderbolts.
Sidney (13-1) has won four consecutive games and has won two more games than it had at the same point last season — despite graduating its top three scorers from that historic 20-win campaign
“From summer on since we started working, this has been the expectation,” Taborn said. “We all come in ready to play every day. Hard work pays off.”
Taborn and younger brother Devin Taborn each scored 11 points. Lathan Jones led the squad with 14 points and had seven rebounds. Trey Werntz scored 10 points and Dominick Durr finished with nine points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
“I thought we shared the ball great tonight and even got a little loose with it after we got a 20-point lead,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “But overall, we did a good job at that against a team that’s got a lot of length.”
Darren Taborn — who gave a verbal commitment to Grand Valley State for football late last week — averaged 17.6 points through Sidney’s first six games. He hasn’t scored more than 17 points since and four times hasn’t reached double figures.
His scoring and shot attempts have decreased as others’ have increased, including his brother’s. Devin Taborn, Durr, Jones and Werntz all average between 7.1 and 9.2 points per game. Three other players average between 6.1 and 6.6 points per game.
It’s quite a different makeup from last season when Andre Gordon and Ratez Roberts were the team’s go-to scorers. The two players combined had just less than half of the team’s field goal attempts. Darren Taborn and Durr are the squad’s leading scorers this year and have accounted for 37 percent of the team’s shot attempts.
“This year, we’re more run-and-gun so we can set people up for better shots,” Darren Taborn said. “We try to get the rebound, push the ball and see what we can get.”
Devin Taborn averages 9.1 points per game. He played off the bench as a freshman a year ago but tore an ACL after the fourth game of the season. He’s made his mark this season — especially when it comes to hitting 3-pointers from near or beyond NBA range.
“I think we’ve been playing basketball together since I was in second grade and he was in first,” Darren Taborn said. “I think we have a great connection. Our IQ with each other is unbelievable. He’s the best shooter in the area, for sure.”
It was the 13th consecutive loss for Northmont, which hasn’t won since opening the year with a win over Springboro. The Thunderbolts have also lost their last seven games by at least 14 points.
Willoughby said it was a good tune-up for a key Miami Valley League game on Friday against Stebbins. Though Northmont struggled shooting and getting offensive rebounds, its zone and full-court press defenses caused some problems for the Yellow Jackets, which had 13 turnovers.
It was also good experience against a taller team. Northmont’s three leading scorers are all over 6-foot-5, while Sidney has one player over 6-2 and none over 6-3.
“They’re athletic and they can play,” Willoughby said. “Our bigs had to compete tonight. (Northmont) is pretty good in there, and I thought we battled on the boards as best as we could. I thought we helped out in our gap defense and did a good job of keeping penetration out.
“Darren did a good job of getting to the rim on offense, and that was good to see with their height.”
Willoughby credited Jones and sophomore forward Avante Martin for playing well inside. Martin led the squad with nine rebounds.
“Lathan had a good shot-fake tonight,” Willoughby said. “We always tell them you have to be players in there and you have to know your surroundings. Lathan’s doing a lot better at that, and so is Avante.”
The Yellow Jackets will travel to Stebbins (12-3) on Friday. The Indians, which edged Northridge 54-53 on Tuesday, are one of three teams that trail Sidney by two games in overall MVL standings. Stebbins, West Carrollton and Tippecanoe are all 8-3 in MVL play while Sidney is 10-1.
“Stebbins likes to drive just like Northmont and has two really strong players, but they’re kind of like us. They share the ball and play a lot of kids and really don’t care who scores,” Willoughby said. “We’re going to have to play even harder against them.”
Jaden Swiger made a putback late in the first quarter to give Sidney an 18-8 lead but Northmont went on a 7-0 run midway through the second to pull within 26-23.
The Thunderbolts trailed 31-25 at halftime and scored the first basket of the third to pull within four points.
The Yellow Jackets pulled away by going on a 15-2 run. Trey Werntz started the run with a 3-pointer with 3:13 left and Cedric Johnson capped the run with a 3 with 1:22 left that put Sidney ahead 50-32.
“It was nice having that spurt,” Willoughby said. “… I think we had three steals in a row there that we converted on. We always talk about defense comes first and that’s what turns games around. I liked the way we competed tonight. We had to be tough tonight, and I thought we were.”
Devin Taborn hit a 3 and made a layup and Avante Martin scored after a steal in the final minute to help Sidney take a 56-35 lead at the end of the third. The squad pushed its lead as high as 24 points before Northmont trimmed the deficit in the final minutes.
Jordan Smith, a 6-6 forward, led the Thunderbolts with 16 points while Patrick Ivory, a 6-5 guard, scored 15.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.