SIDNEY — Sidney’s last game of 2021 was the final game of the 2021-22 season for junior forward Regan Clark. She saved her best for last.
Clark matched a season-high in points and brought down six rebounds to help Sidney beat Tippecanoe 63-50 in a Miami Valley League crossover game.
Clark transferred from Jackson Center to Sidney this summer. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules limit transfer athletes to playing only the first half of the season.
“I was emotional the whole game,” Clark said. “But I’m very happy.”
Clark, who is 6-foot-0, has been happy with the whole transition. She has started all season and provided Sidney (9-2, 8-1 MVL Valley Division) with a much-needed boost in the post.
Getting to play with the fast-moving Yellow Jackets — which average 62 points per game — has been a fun benefit.
“At Jackson, it was slower,” Clark said. “… Sidney is just so much faster and so much more fun. I just like going at a faster pace.
“I love this. The whole team has welcomed me with open arms. Same with the coaches. I fit in here.”
Clark said she started training individually with coach Jamal Foster in May and started with the entire team during summer practice in June.
“You see what she brings to the table and what type of player she is. She’s going to be missed the second half of the year,” Foster said. “Regan can play. I’m glad she showed what she can do tonight.
“She’s brought versatility, she’s brought toughness, she can hit the 3, she’s definitely an interior player, she makes her free throws, she rebounds, and she’s always positive at practice. She’s just one of those girls that came in right away and clicked. We’re so happy to have her here this year and next year.”
Clark scored a season-high 19 points in a win at Vandalia-Butler on Dec. 11 — but that was largely due to drawing fouls and hitting 12-of-16 free-throw attempts.
Her 19 points on Wednesday came while the clock was running; she made 9-of-12 shots from the floor. She scored 13 in the first half to help the Yellow Jackets take a 26-19 halftime lead.
“We had great tempo and pressure and came out and gave them the pressure,” Clark said.
It was Sidney’s first league win over Tippecanoe since the Red Devils joined the same conference (then the Greater Western Ohio Conference) in 2016. The two schools had played twice a year since, with the Red Devils winning 10 consecutive matchups.
“I knew it was a rivalry, so I wanted to come out and play as hard as I could, especially because I knew it was my last game and the girls wanted this so much,” Clark said. “We just used that to push us.”
The Red Devils (4-6, 3-4 MVL Miami) pulled within six points in the fourth quarter, but Sidney secured the win from there.
That was a difference from the last two games, when Troy rallied from 12 down to beat Sidney by one point and West Carrollton rallied from 15 down to tie it before a late free throw lifted the Yellow Jackets to a one-point win.
“I always get nervous coming out of the first half, because we do normally just kind of break down,” Clark said. “But today, we stayed strong. … I think we just wanted to beat Tipp so much more, even more than West Carrollton.”
Junior guard Allie Stockton iced the game with a basket late in the fourth quarter. After missing a layup, Stockton knocked the ball loose shortly after an inbounds pass, grabbed it away from a Tippecanoe player and scored off the glass to give Sidney a 58-50 lead.
“Those are the things that show the type of player she’s growing into,” Foster said. “She’s just a leader.”
The Yellow Jackets hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Foster said he was proud of how the squad finished after the last two games.
“We don’t want to be back in those situations anymore,” Foster said. “… Going against Tipp, which has been the cream of the crop in our league, we just wanted to make sure we got the job done at home.”
After playing nine of its 18 league games, Sidney is on pace with Troy (7-4, 7-1 MVL Miami) and West Carrollton (9-1, 6-1 MVL Valley) for the overall league title.
The second half of the season will bring challenges. Aside from losing Clark, Sidney has been playing without starting point guard Lexee Brewer since she suffered a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 8.
The Yellow Jackets’ starting lineup will now have three freshmen. More young players will be looked to contribute off the bench.
Foster said he’s optimistic Sidney will be able to continue its strong play.
“We didn’t show our best the first game, but we’ve battled and come back,” Foster said. “I’m happy with some of our freshmen growing up and contributing big. I’m proud of how we responded after Lex’s injury. With our numbers being so low, it shows our mantra, that we’re all we’ve got and we’re all we need.”
Stockton finished with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Freshman guard Jordan Scully scored 15 points and had four assists.
Sophomore guard Kiara Hudgins scored six points and had six rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Larkyn Vordemark scored four points and had five rebounds and three assists, and freshman forward Kelis McNeal scored four points and had three rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets will start the second half of the season on Monday when they travel to New Madison Tri-Village. The Patriots (7-2) have advanced to Division IV regionals each of the last five seasons.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.