SIDNEY — Sidney was hoping for a better defensive performance after a 15-point loss to Versailles on Sunday. Instead, Centerville was able to score against whatever defensive scheme Sidney used to earn a win on Tuesday.
After Sidney cut its deficit to six points with under five minutes left in the second quarter, Centerville went on a big run to spark a 67-56 victory in a nonconference game.
Sidney cut Centerville’s lead to eight points in the final minute, but the Elks hit seven late free throws to help secure the win.
The Yellow Jackets’ defense was able to frustrate Centerville in stretches. The Elks, though, were consistently able to adapt to whatever defense they went up against and find open shots.
“They executed well,” Sidney coach John Willoughby said of Centerville. “… We’ve got to figure things out. We’re not playing well for four quarters. I can’t put my finger on it right now. We’re playing two or three quarters and are still in games, so when we figure out how to put together four quarters, we’ll be all right.”
Andre Gordon made a basket to cut Centerville’s lead to 27-21 with 4:48 left in the second quarter, but the Elks scored 14 unanswered points to pull away before halftime. Matt Pearce hit three 3-pointers during the stretch while Alec Grandin added one 3 and Ryan Marchal scored a basket off the glass.
“Missed assignments on the defensive end and getting sucked in when we shouldn’t have,” Willoughby said. “I don’t know what it is. We’ll have to watch the film and figure it out.”
Sidney (7-5, 5-2 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) has lost two games in a row. The Yellow Jackets had won four consecutive games before Sunday’s loss.
Centerville (8-5, 3-2 GWOC National East) won four games over Christmas break at a tournament in Orlando but had lost its last two since returning home.
The Elks scored 35 and 32 points, respectively, in their last two losses. Against Sidney, though, they consistently found ways around defenders.
“Our guys did a really good job of moving ball, in the first half especially,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said. “I think we saw a little bit of everything. (Sidney) went 1-3-1, they went 2-3, they went a little bit of man, and I thought our guys were really locked in and adjusted well to that. Sometimes that’s hard to do when teams are changing defenses like that.
“I thought our ball movement was the key. Guys moved the ball and found the open guy, and he made the open shot.”
Sidney played better offensively in the second half, in part due to junior forward Ratez Roberts and senior center Devan Rogers coming down with offensive rebounds. The duo sat on the bench for several minutes in the first half in foul trouble.
“We’ve been pretty good with fouls, but we got behind (going for) rebounds,” Willoughby said. “That’s why I don’t play much zone, because that’s what happens rebounding-wise.”
Roberts made a shot off the glass with 1:49 left in the third to pull Sidney within 13 points, but Centerville scored the last two baskets of the third to take a 52-35 lead.
The Yellow Jackets opened the fourth on a 16-8 run. Roberts made a dunk with 32 seconds left to pull Sidney within 64-56, but Centerville secured the victory at the free-throw line.
“I didn’t expect us to close it out or make it a 40-point game or something,” Cupps said. “Sidney’s really good. They’ve won some good games and have got some really good players. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“We were just kind of treading water there in the fourth quarter. We’ve got to be able to maintain like a focused, disciplined aggressiveness which I don’t think we had at times, and then we missed some bad shots and didn’t take some shots, being too passive and not taking some to the rim that we could have because we were trying to hold it. That’s something we’ve got to work on and get better at.”
Willoughby said the team showed resiliency in cutting the deficit late but needs to show more consistency.
“That’s good we fight, but we don’t want to always have to do that,” Willoughby said. “We want that fight at the beginning. We don’t want wait until we’re 20 down. Anybody can fight hard when they’re 20 down. It means something when you fight from the beginning, and we just don’t have that right now.”
Gordon scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the second half while Roberts scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
“We’ve definitely got to clean some stuff up, but they’re tough to guard,” Cupps said. “Gordon comes downhill on you. With Rogers and Roberts, those three guys can make it tough on you. Then they can put a shooter out there that stretches you out that you have to pay attention to. Those three guys are hard to defend, and they’re dynamic players that can do multiple things.”
Pearce scored four of Centerville’s seven 3-pointers and led the team with 20 points. Marchal finished with 19 and Jevon Henderson added 10. Centerville shot 23 for 47 (48.9 percent) from the field.
The Elks struggled a bit against Sidney’s 2-3 zone in the first half and went scoreless over about a two-and-a-half minute stretch.
Pearce then hit three consecutive 3’s, with the first two coming from the left wing and the third from the right wing. His third came with 2:13 left and pushed Centerville’s lead to 36-21.
Grandin then hit a 3 from the right wing with 1:47 left, and Marchal added a basket with a minute left to put the Elks up by 20. Sidney junior Keith Lee made a free throw with 54 seconds left to cut the deficit to 41-22 at halftime.
Sidney returns home to face Fairborn on Friday in a GWOC crossover game.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.