CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Purcell Marian steamrolled its way to the Division III state title last season, winning every tournament game by at least 16 points to cap off a 27-1 campaign.
The Cavaliers, which are led by one of the nation’s top prospects, cruised to victory in their first two games this season. While Sidney played tough in the second half on Sunday in a game in Journey to the Tourney, the Yellow Jackets became the latest squad to lose in lopsided fashion to Purcell.
Sidney fell behind by 32 points early in the third quarter and cut into the deficit late but lost 68-43 at Cincinnati Sycamore High School.
Purcell Marian 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Dee Alexander averaged 24.5 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.9 steals per game as a freshman and is considered one of the top prospects nationally in the class of 2025. She has about 30 Division I collegiate scholarship offers.
Alexander dominated Sunday. She made 9-of-15 shots from the floor, scored a game-high 20 points, brought down 10 rebounds and had three assists, two blocks and two steals. She sat out most of the fourth quarter.
Purcell Marian led 16-6 at the end of the first quarter, 41-14 at halftime and scored the first five points of the third quarter to take a 32-point lead.
The Yellow Jackets finished the third with a 12-5 scoring edge and played the Cavaliers to a 17-17 tie in the fourth.
“I feel like we responded well after halftime,” Sidney coach Jamal Foster said. “We came out, we played hard, we made some adjustments. Overall, the heart and the battle was there. That’s what we talked about. We wanted to make sure that we came out and showcased exactly what we want to do.
“We’re going to play hard for four quarters. The first half got away from us a little too much, but the second half, we felt like we regrouped and played hard.”
Sidney dropped to 1-2 overall with the loss.
It’s been a tough month for the squad, including a strong scrimmage slate. Foster said it has been baptism by fire as the squad tries to find chemistry.
Senior guard Lexee Brewer is still getting acclimated after missing most of last season to injury, senior forward Regan Clark is readjusting after missing the second half of last season and junior guard Kimora Johnson is reacclimating after not playing last year. In addition, the squad is playing without junior guard Kiara Hudgins, who is recovering from a knee injury.
“I think we’re still growing, we’re still building. We’re still figuring out spots,” Foster said. “We’re getting girls back and we’re still putting stuff together. We came into the season banged up. But we’re battling through.
“Our preseason schedule was tough, our regular season schedule is tough. But we knew that going in. We want to be the best team we can be at the end of the season. I think we’re trending in the right direction; we just have to make some more adjustments and make some shots.”
Sophomore guard Jordan Scully led the squad with 14 points and had four rebounds and three steals. She struggled in the first half but helped lead the squad’s improved second-half effort.
“Jordan is transitioning to a person that we rely on every day,” Foster said. “She’s not going to be a player that we phase in from the background or a role player. She’s an impact player for us. Even though she’s a sophomore, we’re relying on her to make those shots and handle the ball.
“In the second half, she did that. It’s just being confident in herself, and even when the ball goes in, we still need her to be aggressive on the offensive end. Defensively, she’s improved, and she’s only going to get better.”
Senior guard Allie Stockton added 12 points and had 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Sophomore guard Larkyn Vordemark scored nine points and had four rebounds.
“She’s been working her way back through,” Foster said of Stockton. “She’s going to get back to putting more shots in and defending. Larkyn has been putting the ball in the hole coming off a great soccer season.”
Sophomore forward Kelis McNeal brought down nine rebounds off the bench.
The Yellow Jackets shot 19 for 58 (32.8 percent) from the floor, including 2 for 12 from 3-point range. They committed 23 turnovers while Purcell Marian committed 13.
“We’re waiting. We’re putting stuff together,” Foster said. “We want to be in midseason form, but it’s just not there yet. But, I’m confident after a few good weeks of practice in December, we’ll be rolling come January.”
Sidney will travel to archrival Piqua for a Miami Valley League game on Wednesday.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.