SHERIDAN — Never trailing Friday night, the Sheridan Broncs rolled to 3-0 with a relatively comfortable 69-55 win over Natrona (1-4) in their first game against 4A competition this season.
Head coach Gale Smith was proud of his team adjusting to a different opponent, a sizable one at that, after wins over Green River and then Billings Skyview on the road to start the year.
“We knew this was a tough team coming in,” he said. “We knew they run a ton of pick and rolls so we spent all week on that. We don’t run the pick and roll a lot so we tried to emulate that in practice. It wasn’t as good as what they did tonight, the speed was a little quicker, so we got into foul trouble.”
Sheridan worked in and out of man and zone on defense, and led 12-10 after one quarter as the Mustangs closed an early Sheridan lead, but a Blake Godwin 3-pointer to open the second started a 16-4 run and a 31-point quarter that gave them a 43-23 halftime lead.
“I was really proud of the way they were able to switch gears,” Smith said. “Our plan was to get stops and then race those big guys up and down the court and try and wear them down a little bit.”
The Broncs transition game, Smith said, got a lot of work this week in practice as they hope to build on that aspect of their game and create the separation with teams that has helped them to three early leads in their three wins.
“We’re going to really concentrate on locking down on defense and burying teams,” Smith said.
Smith reiterated that their goal is to hold opponents to 48 points, and they were on pace to do so Friday until a third quarter run by the Mustangs. The Broncs weathered that storm and the game slowed offensively for both sides late in the contest, with Sheridan’s lead never in question.
They led by double digits for the entire second half.
“We knew coming into the season that we could score points, but what we don’t want to have to do is rely on our offense to win basketball games,” Smith explained. “We want our defense to win basketball games and the offense to extend leads.”
The Broncs kept the crowd — complete with a Santa-suit wearing, Christmas-caroling student section — on their feet Friday night. Senior Reed Ritterbusch showed consistent scoring to pace his team. Finishing with 22 points, he broke Sheridan out of their third quarter slump, slashing into the lane and netting eight points in the frame.
Just six Broncs got into the scorebook Friday — Judson White (12), Dylan Daniels (10), Tyler Kaufmann (9) Blake Godwin (9) Cody Williams (7). Sheridan suited nine, fighting early season injuries, but returned senior Ethan Hoopes, who got a few minutes, coming back after he missed the end of football season with a knee injury.
Natrona was led by Parker Browing with 16 points including two 3s, and 12 points from Conner True.
After missing state last year, the Broncs are off to a good start, and they’ll look to keep that going today against a Riverton squad that lost all its starters from a year ago.
“It’s the mental approach that we’ve got to focus on tomorrow, not having a let down,” Smith said. “No let downs, let’s get greedy and go 2-0 this weekend not 1-1, not letting a team that really needs some confidence gain any confidence.”
Sheridan and Riverton will follow the Lady Broncs game, which is set for 1:30 p.m., at SHS.
1 2 3 4 F
NCHS 10 13 16 16 55
SHS 12 31 15 11 69
Sheridan scoring: Reed Ritterbusch 22, Judson White 12, Dylan Daniels 10, Tyler Kaufmann 9, Blake Godwin 9, Cody Williams 7.
Natrona scoring: Josh Harshman 3 James Sulser 4, Layne O’Neal 3, Sam Turner 3, Logan Wilson 6, Parker Browing 16, Conner True 12, Rhett Bratton 8.