TROY — Sidney’s girls basketball team still hasn’t played a game with all players healthy and able to take the court at the same time, but that hasn’t stopped the squad from repeating as Miami Valley League Valley Division champions.
The Yellow Jackets are hoping it won’t prevent them from doing something they couldn’t last year: make a tournament run.
Sidney earned its sixth win in seven games by beating MVL rival Troy 41-29 in a nonconference game on Tuesday at the Trojan Activities Center to improve to 16-4 overall. It’s the second in a tough four-game stretch to end the year for the squad.
Second-year coach Jamal Foster is hoping the tough stretch will help the Yellow Jackets, which earned the No. 7 seed in the 19-team Dayton Division I sectional, prepare for postseason challenges.
“We feel confident going into the tournament,” Foster said. “I think to get respected around the area, you’ve got to go out there and beat somebody. That’s what we want to do. We want to go out there, perform in the tournament, win one game at a time. If we do that, maybe we’ll earn that respect.”
Despite entering Sunday’s tournament draw meeting with 15 wins, the Yellow Jackets were unable to land in the top third of the sectional’s seeds. That is partly due to how strong the sectional is — nine teams had 13 or more wins heading into Sunday’s meeting, including Troy (13-7).
Sidney’s tough slate to end regular season started Saturday at Tippecanoe. The Red Devils (18-0) have clinched the overall MVL title for the second consecutive year and used a hot start to power a 37-20 win.
Sidney will get another shot against the undefeated Red Devils when it returns to Tipp City for a nonconference game on Friday. The Yellow Jackets will wrap up regular-season play by hosting Tri-Village on Wednesday; the Patriots (15-2) were ranked No. 9 in Division IV in the latest state Associated Press poll and advanced to a regional final last year.
Sidney is hoping for a strong finish with leading scorer Allie Stockton back. Stockton missed two games earlier this month due to a minor injury, and Foster said she’s still working to regain full strength.
Stockton hit her average by leading the Yellow Jackets with 16 points on Wednesday. She averages 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 2.3 assists and 2.1 blocks per game.
Freshman guard Kiara Hudgins added 11 points on Wednesday; she averages 9.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Lexee Brewer averages 10.9 points, 4.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 4.3 steals and senior forward Samantha Reynolds averages 6.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Those four — along with senior guard Kelsey Kizer — have been the team’s go-to scorers. All have missed at least one game this year, though, and most have missed more than one. On Wednesday, it was Kizer who was out of the lineup for the Yellow Jackets.
“We’ve been down and out at least one person every game,” Foster said. “So for us, we’ve had a good next-man up mentality of trying to pick each other up.”
Bench players have helped the squad keep up its success. Senior forward Makayla Hurey, junior forward Cassidy Truesdale and sophomore forward Lainie Fair have played in most games, as has freshman guard Kimora Johnson.
“All our players off the bench have done a good job of coming in and keeping the energy up,” Foster said. “That’s what we want. We want 10 players, not five.”
Troy took an 8-4 lead in the first quarter but Sidney finished with a 5-2 run to pull within 10-9 by the end of the quarter.
Stockton and Brewer spent much of the second quarter on the bench in foul trouble, but Hudgins scored six points to help lead a 15-10 scoring edge that gave the squad a 24-20 halftime lead.
The Trojans started the third with a 6-2 run to tie it 26-26, but Sidney dominated the rest of the quarter. The Yellow Jackets picked up their full-court pressure and took advantage of turnovers for easy layups.
Stockton and Hudgins scored off of turnovers, Reynolds hit a put-back inside and Truesdale made a jumper just before the buzzer to cap off an 11-1 run to end the quarter and give the squad a 37-27 lead heading into the fourth.
“I liked the way we picked it up in the second half,” Foster said. “We put pressure on them, created some turnovers. Ultimately, that’s how we play. I was happy how they bounced back after halftime.”
It was the third victory over Troy this season for Sidney, which won a matchup on its home court 48-28 on Dec. 18 and won a matchup at the Trojan Activities Center 45-35 on Jan. 22.
The first two matchups were league contests; Wednesday’s game did not count toward league standings.
The Yellow Jackets will open postseason play against No. 10 seed Beavercreek (7-12) on Feb. 13 in Troy.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.