SIDNEY — Yelling at players isn’t always a constructive communication method for coaches. To Sidney coach John Willoughby’s surprise, his players ask for it.
“Twenty years ago, they’d be mad at me for yelling all the time,” Willoughby said outside the team’s locker room after a Miami Valley League game on Friday. “Now they’re telling me to yell at them more.”
As junior forward Jaden Swiger left the locker room, Willoughby asked for confirmation on the team’s yelling request.
“Absolutely,” Swiger said. “We need him screaming. We need him screaming at the beginning of the game.”
The Yellow Jackets got yelled at halftime after a slow start against Troy on Friday and showed how much motivation it provides in the second half. Sidney dominated the Trojans in every way in the last 16 minutes to rally from a five-point deficit and earn a 77-46 victory.
Jaden Owens scored 15 points in the first half to help Troy amass a 26-21 halftime lead. But the Trojans looked inept on offense the entire second half, as Sidney forced at least a dozen turnovers, blocked several shots and grabbed up almost every rebound.
The Yellow Jackets (7-4) had no offensive problems in the second half and played almost as if Troy wasn’t even on the court. They scored the first 19 points of the third quarter to take a 42-26 lead before the Trojans finally scored with 3:38 left.
“The way we played the second half was just some beautiful basketball,” Willoughby said. “Unselfish, hitting the open man. Our defense was outstanding. That’s what I expected us to do from the start of the game. I figured we’d get all over them defensively. But we let Owens get going and we didn’t do a good job taking the ball away from them.”
With 0.8 seconds left in the third, Avante Martin tipped in an inbounds pass to cap off a 34-9 scoring advantage in the quarter and push the lead to 55-35.
It took Sidney less than four minutes in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 30 points.
“We’ve got to play like that from the beginning. We’ve got figure out these slow starts,” Willoughby said. “They said after the game, ‘Coach, you need to yell at us before the game, not wait to halftime. I told them, ‘I can’t do that anymore, boys.’”
Swiger, who finished with 15 points, dominated in the post in the second half. He scored eight points in the third quarter and six in the fourth after scoring one point in the first half.
“He got us going,” Willoughby said. “At halftime, we talked about getting the ball inside. I thought we could get him to score in there. We went to him three or four consecutive times and got some positive plays out of it. That just opened it up for us.
Junior guard Devin Taborn led Sidney with 19 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Cam Vordemark scored 10 points, all of which came in the third quarter.
Martin scored 11 points, with eight coming in the second half. He also had a team-high 11 rebounds, eight assists, seven steals and four blocks.
Darrius Basil added eight points for the Yellow Jackets and Cedric Johnson scored seven.
Basil and senior guard Deegan Meyer played several minutes off the bench in the first half, and Willoughby credited them for playing well.
“Deegan gave us good energy, and Basil had a great first half,” Willoughby said. “That’s why you want to have a good set of subs, because if the starters aren’t playing with the right energy, we’ll take them out, let them collect their thoughts for a little bit and put them back in. It’s nice to have the bench come through for us.”
It was the second consecutive victory for Sidney, which was 2-2 entering January after a slow start in December due in part to COVID-19 issues, including a two-week shutdown.
The Yellow Jackets’ lone two losses in their last six games were a 71-68 loss to undefeated Tippecanoe and a 62-58 loss to MVL Valley Division leader West Carrollton on the road on Monday.
Monday’s loss was the first of three games this week. Sidney bounced back with a 64-55 victory on Wednesday at Xenia.
The Yellow Jackets will look to knock off West Carrollton (9-3) when it travels to Sidney on Wednesday.
“It was a good week for us,” Willoughby said. “We’re coming down to the end where every game is important for us.”
Owens scored two points in the second half and finished with 17 for the Trojans (8-5).
Owens scored eight points in the first quarter, which the Trojans dominated. They led 13-4 heading into the second, but Taborn hit a basket to open the quarter and Basil scored shortly after to cut the gap to six.
The Yellow Jackets pulled as close as three points late in the second before Troy made four foul shots in the final minute to push its lead to 26-21 at halftime.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.