SIDNEY — It took Sidney awhile, but the Yellow Jackets got the consistent effort they were hoping for before the end of the year.
Sidney played its most complete game to date on Saturday in a 63-40 win nonconference win over Bellefontaine. It’s the kind of performance the Yellow Jackets — which have “Play 32,” printed across the back of their warm-ups — have been looking for after inconsistent play early in the season.
The Yellow Jackets (6-3, 4-2 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) had played well for stretches but had several bad halves, including allowing 41 points to winless Greenville in the first half of a conference game on Dec. 22.
Sidney gradually pulled away from Bellefontaine on Saturday. The Chieftains pulled within 13 points late in the third quarter, but Sidney went on a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to pull away.
The Yellow Jackets shot 24 for 44 (54.5 percent) from the field and outrebounded Bellefontaine 26-20 unofficially.
“I think we’re getting closer,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said. “I think our defense is getting better and I think are subs are getting better. I think that’s helping us. We’re not as tired late in the game. Along with our defense, our rebounding the last two or three games is better. We weren’t good rebounders early in the season.”
Urbana outrebounded Sidney 42-36 in a nonconference game on Friday night. But the Chieftains, who beat the Hillclimbers by 12 points on Dec. 8, couldn’t replicate the success of their Central Buckeye Conference rivals against Sidney.
Bellefontaine had a size advantage in the post with 6-foot-5 senior center Spencer George, but Sidney center Devan Rogers (6-2) and forward Ratez Roberts (6-3) largely held him in check. Roberts had five rebounds and four blocks, while Rogers had eight rebounds.
Roberts led Sidney with 17 points, while Andre Gordon added 15 and Rogers scored 10.
Gordon, who is second in the GWOC with an average of 27.3 points per game, didn’t score in the first half Friday. The Yellow Jackets were able to build an 11-7 lead in the first half thanks to six points from Roberts and five from Rogers.
Gordon scored 13 points in the second half (including nine in the second quarter) to help Sidney pull away.
“With the way defenses are helping so much inside and emphasizing so much on Andre, we’re going to have guys standing wide open,” Willoughby said. “We’re getting close to those guys getting the ball to the way they should. …Just because they take Andre away doesn’t mean we don’t have someone else ready to go.”
It wasn’t the performance Bellefontaine coach Jason Calton was expecting. The Chieftains (4-3) hadn’t lost by more than seven points before Saturday and played Fairmont (6-2) to a two-point loss on Dec. 5.
“We got out-toughed,” Calton said. “We got bullied tonight. We didn’t step up. We got pushed around. We got smacked early and we didn’t respond from there. I was really disappointed in the amount of toughness that we showed… when it became a physical game, which we’d played in several of those before this season.
“We’ve taken them over to Fort Wayne and played some really physical games over there, we’ve taken them down to Dunbar, we’ve taken them to Columbus. We’ve been in a lot of situations that are tougher than this with better players, and we collapsed tonight.”
Sidney returns to action on Friday at home against West Carrollton (0-7).
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.