VANDALIA — Sidney got two starters it missed in its first two games back on Friday, but a slow start with those two players on the bench proved too much to overcome.
Vandalia-Butler took control with a 10-0 run in the first quarter, and though Sidney took a lead once and pulled close several other times, it couldn’t keep up the rest of the way in a 57-51 loss in a Miami Valley League game at Butler’s Student Activity Center.
Sidney senior forward Avante Martin hit a 3-pointer to put the squad ahead 7-6 early in the first quarter, but the Aviators scored the next 10 points to take a nine-point lead with 2:28 left.
Sidney (1-2, 1-2 MVL Valley Division) pulled within one point twice after that and took a one-point lead once, but the Aviators (4-0, 4-0 MVL Miami) responded with runs each time to extend the lead.
“We just talked about our slow beginnings,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “I don’t what it is. I don’t know if it’s something in our week of practice before, our warmups, or what. But we’re coming out sluggish and not ready to play, it seems like.
“After (the 10-0 run) we battled pretty good. We’re pretty even teams. Our shooting was just too bad. We’re missing too many shots that I think we should be making. In the Piqua game we missed eight power layups, and tonight, we probably missed four or five. We’re not hitting our open 3s, either.”
Martin, who missed the squad’s first game due to quarantining, scored a career-high 22 points. Camden Vordemark added eight, Devin Taborn scored seven and Jaden Swiger scored six.
It was the first game of the season for Taborn and Swiger, who are both juniors. The duo practiced all preseason but went into quarantine shortly before the team’s opener due to COVID-19 exposure.
Sidney used the same starting lineup (Martin, Vordemark, Ryan Schloss, Cedric Johnson, Isaiah Huggins) it had in its first two games and put in Taborn and Swiger late in the first quarter.
“It’s nice to have them back,” Willoughby said. “We can get back to our original starting lineup we’d thought we’d have. They’re still getting back into shape right now. They had 10 days of practices that they missed. They looked alright tonight, though.”
After Butler took a 16-7 seven lead, Sidney scored the next seven points. The Yellow Jackets trailed 19-14 at the end of the first quarter, and Johnson hit a 3 with 4:42 left to cap off a 6-0 run to start the second and give the team a 20-19 lead.
The Aviators responded with another big run to take a 31-26 lead into halftime. Tyler Montague and Quinton Hall each scored 3s during the 12-2 run.
“I thought our defense was pretty good,” Willoughby said. “They hit some 3s early, but we had to stop (Montague) from penetrating, because he could have got by us at will. I thought we did a decent job with that all game long.
“I thought we battled. I thought the kids played hard. A game like this, especially when you dig yourself a hole, you’ve just got to make shots. …There’s no reason we’re only scoring 45 points a game.”
Sidney started the third with a 6-2 run to pull within 33-32, but the Aviators finished the quarter with a 7-3 run. Taborn made a basket to pull Sidney within 49-45 with 2:02 left in the fourth, but the Aviators put it away after that.
Montague made layup after a Sidney turnover with 1:02 left to put the squad up 54-49, and the teams traded baskets the rest of the way.
Montague led Butler with 19 points. Casey Bennett scored 12 and Connor Bucchanan scored 10.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.