PIQUA — A competition cheerleading performance at halftime may have just been what Sidney needed on Friday.
After Piqua built a 15-point lead over Sidney in the second quarter, both schools’ competition cheer squads performed during a 20-minute halftime.
The long rest apparently did the Yellow Jackets a lot of good.
Sidney battled back and took a two-point lead by the end of the third quarter and then finished on a huge run to earn a 69-61 win over the Indians at Garbry Gymnasium.
“It’s kind of like a Super Bowl, where the team going into halftime kind of loses it because it gives the team that’s behind a little more time to reflect and change their minds about the way their playing,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “I just put it on the players tonight. They’re the ones that have to do it, they had to decide if they wanted to come out and play.”
Sidney came out of the locker room on fire and took a two-point lead at the end of the third. Piqua then went on an 8-2 run to take a 55-49 lead with 5:55 left in the fourth.
The Indians didn’t score over the next five minutes, though, and Sidney went on a 14-0 run over that time to put the game away.
“When we picked up full-court man there, I think that got us going,” Willoughby said. “It’s weird, man, because we tried to start in our half-court trap to start the game, but we were just giving up everything. So then tried to go man but couldn’t stop (Piqua’s Devon Brown), so then we went zone a little bit. …The kids really did just have to decide if they wanted to come out and play or not, and played (full-court) better.”
Andre Gordon made a basket 34 seconds into the fourth to give Sidney a 49-47 lead. Piqua responded with its run, which Ben Schmiesing capped off with a dunk.
After a timeout, the Yellow Jackets (3-2, 3-1 GWOC American North) went on the decisive run.
Ratez Roberts started the run with a dunk, and Gordon had a breakaway two-handed slam with four minutes left to push the lead to 59-55. Roberts then added a basket in the paint 30 seconds later to push the lead to six and force Piqua to call a timeout.
Gordon finished off the run for Sidney. He tipped the ball away from a Piqua player at half court, and it rolled back near Sidney’s baseline. Gordon chased and caught the ball, then drove around a Piqua defender and laid a shot off the glass to put the Yellow Jackets up 63-55.
Nick Rigola scored on a dunk for Piqua with 55 seconds left, but the Indians never came closer than six points in the final minute.
Willoughby said Sidney looked for shots in the paint in the second half and shot too many 3-pointers in the first half.
Roberts, a 6-foo-3 forward, was a big reason for the improvement inside. He scored all 14 of his points in the second half.
“It was all in our heads in the first half,” Roberts said. “Our coach talked to us and told us to pick it up in the second half. We didn’t come out like that in the first half, but we came out with some fire in the second half and got the win.”
Gordon led Sidney with 23 points, while Josiah Hudgins and Devan Rogers each added 10 points.
Schmiesing scored 14 points in the first half, but Willoughby said Rogers, a 6-2 senior forward, was able to defend him better in the second half. Roberts also made his presence felt in the paint with several blocks.
“We just went man, pressed up the full court, and they didn’t get it inside as much,” Roberts said. “We just got the ball and ran.”
Willoughby also credited Hudgins with guarding Brown well in the second half.
Schmiesing led Piqua with 21 points, while Brown added 18 and Rigola finished with 10. Qurri Tucker added 10 points for the Indians (1-4, 0-3).
After Piqua built a 37-22 halftime lead, Sidney came out on fire and quickly narrowed the gap.
Hudgins hit a basket to cut Piqua’s lead to 37-29 with 6:15 left in the third. The Indians got their first basket of the quarter midway through, but a dunk by Roberts with 3:04 left cut the lead to 39-35.
Hudgins scored a basket with 2:26 left to bring Sidney within one point, and Rogers hit two foul shots with 1:26 left to tie it 42-42.
Gordon made a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:02 left to give Sidney its first lead of the game at 45-44. Brown made a basket with 46 seconds left to give Piqua the lead, but Rogers made a basket in the paint to put Sidney on top 47-46, which was the score at the end of the third.
The Indians’ hot shooting helped them build a big halftime lead. The few shots Piqua missed in the first half were usually rebounded by Schmiesing, who scored several put-backs.
Schmiesing scored his first basket of the game with 5:40 left in the first to give Piqua a 5-0 lead. Brown and Schmiesing added back-to-back baskets late in the quarter to push Piqua’s lead to 13-5.
Sidney cut Piqua’s lead to 14-12 after Darren Taborn added a basket with 1:02 left and Gordon hit a 3-pointer and a jumper in the final minute of the first.
The Indians took control quickly in the second quarter. Brown scored a shot with 5:28 left that capped off an 8-0 run by Piqua to start the quarter. The Indians stretched their lead to 17 late in the second, but Keith Lee hit a basket for Sidney with two seconds left to cut the gap at halftime to 15.
Willoughby said Lee’s basket at the end of the second quarter was big for Sidney’s momentum.
“Seventeen for some odd reason seems insurmountable, but 15 doesn’t seem like that big of deal,” Willoughby said. “I think that was a big key for us to get it to 15.”
Sidney’s next game is big for GWOC American North standings. The Yellow Jackets, who are second in the North, will host first-place Vandalia-Butler (5-0, 3-0) on Tuesday.
“We definitely have to come and practice ready to go to get prepared, and we definitely have to come out at the beginning of the game ready to go with some fire,” Roberts said.
— Bryant Billing (@TopBillingSport) December 16, 2017
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.