VANDALIA — Sidney dealt well with Beavercreek’s extreme height advantage for three quarters in a Division I sectional opener on Saturday at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activities Center.
Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they couldn’t deal with it for five quarters.
Sidney led by as many as 15 points in the first half and 10 in the second half but couldn’t hold on and lost 74-70 in overtime. It’s the first time the squad has lost in a first-round tournament game since 2015.
“Our defense just wasn’t as strong in the first half as it was the second half,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “The more tired you get, the harder it is. Just like a good pressing team, (dealing with a height disadvantage) may not get you the first three quarters, but it can get you in the last minutes. It wears you down.
“For the most part, we did about as well as we could against it. I thought we did an excellent job against it. I’m really proud of how they battled inside. But we just let them penetrate too much in the fourth quarter and didn’t keep them in front of us.”
The Yellow Jackets finish 10-9 overall. Seven of their nine losses were by single-digit margins, with four coming by four points or less.
Sidney will lose eight seniors to graduation, including Martin, who was a first team all-Miami Valley League selection. Martin, a 5-foot-9 forward, averaged 13.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, five assists, 2.6 steals and two blocks per game.
Sidney will also lose guards Camden Vordemark, Cedric Johnson, Ryan Schloss, Josh Webster and Deegan Meyer to graduation along with forwards Darrius Basil and Isaiah Huggins. Vordemark averaged 12.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and was an honorable mention all-MVL selection.
“I really like the group,” Willoughby said. “I really spent a lot of time in the summer with them, especially three or four of them. That’s what I’ll miss the most with those guys, the time you get spend with them in the offseason. I’ll miss those guys.”
Sidney will return two starters in junior guard Devin Taborn and junior forward Jaden Swiger. Taborn averaged 12.6 points per game and was a second team all-MVL selection. Swiger averaged 10.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
“Both those guys back, and we’ve got players coming along on the JV team,” Willoughby said. “Just because we’re graduating eight, there’s no drop off at all.”
Adam Duvall, a 6-foot-7 guard, made 3-of-4 free-throw attempts in the final 26 seconds for the Beavers to seal the win. It was part of a huge free-throw disparity; the Yellow Jackets surpassed 10 fouls in regulation before overtime while Beavercreek was called for five the entire second half.
Willoughby and Sidney’s fans made their displeasure of the foul disparity known — but it didn’t stop the squad from building a 10-point lead in the third quarter.
That fell apart down the stretch. The Beavers have four players 6-4 or taller, including 6-7 forward Braden Grant and 6-8 center Gabe Phillips. Those players started passing over Sidney and finding shots in the post in the fourth.
Siloam Baldwin, a 6-4 guard, made a driving layup with little defensive pressure from Sidney in the final 10 seconds in the fourth to tie it 67-67. Martin missed a 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired.
The teams traded the first two baskets in overtime. Swiger split a pair of free throws in the final minute that allowed the Beavers to keep a 71-70 lead, and Duvall sealed it at the line from there.
“The players did everything we asked,” Willoughby said. “I thought our rebounding was excellent and I thought our sharing of the ball was excellent until the last few possessions. We didn’t run our stuff late and had too much one-on-one there at the end.
“That’s been our problem all year. We don’t execute as well as we should and think we can take it on our own. But overall, I thought we played about as hard as we have all year.”
Swiger, who is a 6-2 center, led Sidney with 23 points. He shot 10 for 12 from the floor in the game.
“Jaden has good hands and that wide shoulder and takes advantage,” Willoughby said. “Even though he was outsized six inches almost, he took advantage of his quickness and athleticism. A lot of times he just went straight up with it, which is what you do. We got the ball to him in good spots.”
Martin finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists. Vordemark also added 15 points and had five assists and three rebounds.
Sidney built an early 8-2 lead and led 14-6 at the end of the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets pushed their lead to as many as 15 before the Beavers finished with a late run to pull within 33-22 at halftime.
Beavercreek started the first with a 13-2 run to tie it 35-35, but Sidney finished the quarter with a 15-7 run to take a 50-45 lead into the fourth. The Yellow Jackets led by as many as 10 in the third before the Beavers cut the gap late.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.