SIDNEY — The majority of Sidney’s on-the-court time this month has come in games, and that trend will continue the rest of the month.
The Yellow Jackets played their fifth game in eight days on Tuesday and their seventh game in 16 days.
There hasn’t been much practice time in that stretch, and it will continue to be that way. The squad is scheduled to travel to Stebbins on Friday and Vandalia-Butler on Tuesday for league games.
“The guys are pretty good about it,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “We’ve given them some days off and are (giving them one) on Wednesday. These guys are pretty good on executing what we want them to do, so it doesn’t take long to go through some things in practice.”
The Yellow Jackets got a lesson on going up against a taller opponent on Tuesday. After a slow start, Northmont controlled the rest of the game and beat Sidney 58-51 in a nonconference contest.
The loss broke a five-game winning streak for Sidney (11-3), which had won its other two nonconference games before Tuesday.
Willoughby knew the Thunderbolts (9-6) were going to be a challenge. Though Northmont has suffered several losses, they’ve come against strong competition, including Greater Western Ohio Conference foes Centerville and Fairmont which are ranked in Division I in the Associated Press state poll.
Northmont, which played Fairmont (13-1) to a two-point loss on Friday, has four starters 6-foot-2 or taller, including Brian Amin (6-5) and Kennez Bozeman (6-3), each of which scored 13 points. Dalin Wilkins (6-3) scored 11 points off the bench. Jeremiah Landers (6-2) scored eight.
While the Yellow Jackets aren’t exactly short, they were giving up about two inches across the board.
Despite the height disadvantage and a 28-15 rebounding edge by Northmont, Sidney was still in it in the final minutes.
“I don’t think we are ever going to back down from anybody,” Willoughby said. “It’s not part of this program and it’s not part of this team. They’re really good about taking on challenges and doing their best against it.”
But 22 fouls over the course of the game were costly. The Thunderbolts hit 21-of-29 free-throw attempts, including 9-of-12 in the fourth quarter. Sidney made 10-of-15 free-throw attempts on the night.
“They called it close,” Willoughby said. “I thought if they called it close it would help us because of their (defensive) pressure. I thought if they called it close, we would get to the free-throw line. But instead, it came back to get us a little bit.”
Sidney forwards and brothers Landon Davis (6-4) and Mitchell Davis (6-4) each fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
The Yellow Jackets pulled within four points, though, on a 3-pointer by Sam Reynolds with 3:41 left.
But Northmont hit four consecutive foul shots, and Sidney had two costly offensive fouls down the stretch that prevented it from ever getting closer than four.
“It hurt (not having Landon and Mitchell Davis),” Willoughby said. “Landon is a steady, smart player for us, usually in the right spot defensively with his help defense. He gets a key rebound here and there, and offensively he’s a good passer. Mitchell dominates the inside. So it hurt.
“And it hurt throughout the game. Both of them and (senior forward) Jaden (Swiger) had two fouls in the first half. The momentum changed, because they were afraid to play defense.”
That was especially the case in the second quarter.
Sidney built an early 10-2 lead, but Northmont shut the Yellow Jackets out of the paint the rest of the first half.
The Thunderbolts finished the first quarter on a 6-1 run to pull within 11-8. Sidney hit a 3 to open the second quarter and take a 14-8 lead.
But as the fouls mounted, Northmont attacked the paint and made layup after layup, which gave the squad a 23-15 halftime lead.
“I think we were a little too passive on defense, because we let them drive by us,” Willoughby said.
The Thunderbolts pushed the lead to 13 points in the third quarter and led 43-33 heading into the fourth.
Swiger and Reynolds made some baskets to help Sidney cut down on the gap, but they could never come within one possession.
Reynolds led Sidney with 21 points, four rebounds and three steals. He is now tied with Stebbins’ Nate Keller atop the Miami Valley League with an average of 17.8 points per game. He also ranks fifth in the league in rebounds (7.4) and fifth in steals (2.4).
“It was nice for him to hit some 3’s,” Willoughby said. “He was catching and shooting and didn’t have to think about it at all. He also took it to the basket well against some tall guys. That’s the type of player he is.”
Swiger finished with 14 points and seven steals and Myles Vordemark finished with seven points and three steals.
Northmont shot 18 for 40 (45 percent) from the floor while Sidney shot 18 for 42 (42.9 percent).
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.