SIDNEY — Coaching against Paul Bremigan is always exciting for Sidney coach John Willoughby, if at times worrisome.
Willoughby and the Yellow Jackets aren’t worried heading into a third matchup against Bremigan and Troy on Friday, but they’re not already mentally counting on the win, either.
Sidney (16-6) will open tournament play with Troy (9-13) in a sectional quarterfinal at 7 p.m. on Friday at Trotwood-Madison. It will be the fifth meeting between Sidney and Troy since Willoughby and Bremigan have been at the helm of the programs.
The two coaches spent three decades at rival Shelby County Athletic League schools before taking over the Greater Western Ohio Conference programs. Bremigan coached at Russia for 31 years before taking over at Troy in 2015 while Willoughby led Houston for 30 years before taking over at Sidney in 2016.
“It’s always fun,” Willoughby said of coaching against Bremigan. “I know they’re going to be ready and I know they’re going to play hard. I’ve told the guys we’re going to have to match how hard and how tough his teams play.”
Troy hasn’t beaten Sidney since Willoughby took over the program. The Yellow Jackets beat Troy by double digits in two GWOC American North Division matchups, which gives the team a bit of confidence heading into a third game according to Willoughby.
But the two games also serve as warnings the Yellow Jackets can’t take Troy easily. The Trojans came within five points midway through the third quarter of the first matchup between the two on Dec. 12 before Sidney closed out a 65-54 win.
In the second conference matchup on Feb. 2, Troy cut Sidney’s lead to 10 points at the end of the third quarter before the Yellow Jackets used a 21-8 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to close out a 58-35 win.
“We just had a talk with our guys (on Wednesday) to remind them to keep the focus where our focus is,” Willoughby said. “To be able to reach what our goals are, we’re going to be able to take each game and play our best and get after it defensively and get all loose balls and rebounds.”
Troy’s loss to Sidney earlier this month was its first in a four-game losing streak. The Trojans beat Tippecanoe 52-39 on Feb. 12 and lost by seven points to Piqua last Friday to close out regular-season play.
Willoughby said the Trojans played well in their last two games and will require a good defensive effort on Friday.
“They’ve got nothing to lose and can try a bunch of different things,” Willoughby said. “I anticipate Coach Bremigan throwing everything at us to try to get things going. Hopefully, we’re good enough and prepared enough that, whatever defense is thrown our way, we can execute against it and not get flustered.”
Zach Reichelderfer leads Troy with an average of 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while Jacob Martinez averages nine points. Reichelderfer, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, scored 10 and eight points in the regular season games against Sidney. Martinez, a 6-2 junior forward, scored five and 10 points in the regular season matchups.
“We’re going to have to be able to handle (Reichelderfer),” Willoughby said. “We’ve guarded him pretty well before. He’s the key to their confidence, I think. When he gets going, they’re a pretty good team. We’ve got to give special attention to him and also Martinez inside.”
Sidney’s inside duo of forward Ratez Roberts and center Devan Rogers has done well against the Trojans this year. Roberts scored 16 points and had seven rebounds in the first game while Rogers scored nine points and had seven rebounds.
Roberts didn’t play against the Trojans in February due to an ankle injury he suffered earlier the same week against Tippecanoe. Rogers made up for Roberts’ absence with 10 points and 20 rebounds.
“We’ve got a good matchup with (Rogers) against Martinez,” Willoughby said. “In that second game, a guard, Darren Taborn, guarded Reichelderfer. That’s a nice thing about this team. No matter what the size of the other team is, we’ve got multiple guys that can defend inside and outside. That’s a good luxury to have.”
Sidney junior guard Andre Gordon had success in both matchups against the Trojans. Gordon, who is third in the 20-team GWOC with an average of 23.8 points per game, scored 21 points against Troy in December and 23 points in February.
Sidney is the No. 8 seed in the Dayton Div. I sectional and Troy is the No. 17 seed. The winner of Friday’s game will face the winner of No. 11 Franklin vs. No. 12 Beavercreek next Tuesday at Centerville. The Beavers and Franklin will play at 8:30 on Friday at Trotwood.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.