RIVERSIDE — Sidney found itself with a double-digit deficit in the first half of a road Miami Valley League game for the second time this season on Friday. But unlike the first occurrence, the Yellow Jackets dominated the rest of the way.
The Yellow Jackets dominated the last 13 minutes at Stebbins to earn a 72-59 victory that further strengthened their lead in MVL Valley Division standings and overall MVL standings.
It was a far different result from when the squad last faced a tough situation on the road. The Yellow Jackets trailed by 17 points in the first half a 71-57 loss at Tippecanoe on Jan. 7.
Stebbins had a 12-point lead with about five minutes left in the third but the Yellow Jackets went on a 22-2 run over the next eight minutes to take control.
Sidney (14-1, 11-1 MVL) struggled with the Indians’ full-court press in the first half but settled down and didn’t have many late turnovers. After struggling to rebound early, the Yellow Jackets rebounded well in the second half, especially on defense. Stebbins got many of its early points thanks to put-back opportunities.
“I thought our guards picked up when we had to make the adjustment,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “We were trying to slow them down with a zone and we were okay at it but weren’t making headway with it.
“We tried to pick them up full court man-to-man, and I think that got the game to go where we needed it to go. Our guards did a great job picking up and causing some trouble, and that’s what (Stebbins usually does) to teams.”
Dominick Durr led Sidney with 20 points while Darren Taborn scored 11. Durr scored 16 of his points in the second half while Taborn scored nine. Cam Vordemark and Avante Martin each added eight points.
“We played four guards and didn’t have some of our bigs in, and we kept some of our bench guys in that matched up better and were able to defend well,” Willoughby said. “… Some of our seniors and starters didn’t play in the second half but they were positive on the bench even though it wasn’t their game. I’m real proud of them for that.”
The win completes a season sweep for the Yellow Jackets against Stebbins. They beat the Indians 60-56 in an MVL matchup on Dec. 10 in Sidney.
The squad has a two-game lead over West Carrollton in MVL Valley Division standings and a two-game lead over the Pirates and Miami Division leader Tipp in overall MVL standings. Stebbins (12-4, 8-4) is a game behind West Carrollton in the Valley Division.
Sidney will continue MVL play on Tuesday when it travels to Vandalia-Butler (8-7, 7-5). It’s the first of six league games in a 17-day span.
“Not that you overlook nonleague games, but every game counts, and that’s a lot of mental stress,” Willoughby said.
Stebbins led 33-26 at halftime and started the third quarter with a 12-7 run to take a 45-33 lead with about five minutes left.
“I give Stebbins a lot of credit,” Willoughby said. “Defensively they have active hands and they rotate defensive positions. They like to go double the ball but they rotate to the open spot. It took us about a quarter and a half to adjust to it a little bit. I’m really proud of the way we stuck in there the rest of the way and handled it.”
The Yellow Jackets clamped down on defense the rest of the way. The squad finished the third with a 14-2 run to tie it 47-47 and scored the first eight points of the fourth.
Durr hit a basket with 3:59 left to put Sidney ahead 63-51, and the squad led by double digits the rest of the way.
“We’re a pretty good defensive team but sometimes don’t rebound well,” Willoughby said. “Avante came through, Darren Taborn stepped up and had some big rebounds and Cam Vordemark came in and rebounded.
“We needed to be tougher. Rebounding’s how tough you are, and if you have the will to go get it, go get it.”
The Indians pulled out quickly in the first half thanks in part to a full-court press that disoriented the Yellow Jackets.
Stebbins scored the first four points and took a 13-4 lead by the midpoint of the first quarter. Devin Taborn made a 3-pointer from the right corner to pull Sidney within 17-11 with 1:40 left, but the Indians pushed their lead to 21-13 heading into the second.
Sebbins scored the first eight points of the second to take a 29-13 lead, but Sidney finished with a 13-4 run to pull within 33-26 at halftime. Trey Werntz hit a 3 from the left corner with 53 seconds left to cap off the run.
“We had some good shots in the first half and I think missed six bunny shots,” Willoughby said. “I told them at halftime that we were fine and that we were going to get seven or eight more bunny shots and make them. We did that, and we did a lot better job rebounding.
“The big key rebounding was Avante. I had to get on him a little bit there early because he wasn’t attacking the ball like he can, but after that, you saw him. He took over the boards for a while.”
Jake Reed led the Indians with 12 points, nine of which came in the first quarter. Jalen Tolbert scored 11.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.