SHERIDAN — One of the most notable characteristics that shines through within the Sheridan girls basketball team is unselfishness, a fantastic attribute to have in everyday life. First-year head coach Larry Ligocki loves how his Lady Broncs exemplify that trait every time they step on the floor.
But at this early stage of the season, Ligocki would prefer a sliver more selfishness from his players.
“We want them to be unselfish, but you have to look for your shot when it’s called,” Ligocki said. “Some of that hesitation comes with it being a new offense. … I would love a little more scorer’s mentality out of the girls. So that’s where we are at right now. Every one has the green light and we’ll start working that in if it gets too much. … We can always pull the reins back in.”
The Lady Broncs’ first opportunity to be a little more selfish presents itself Friday as Sheridan hosts Billings Senior in their home opener at 7:30 p.m. Ligocki will scout the opposing Lady Broncs like he would any other team but realizes at this point in the season he’d like to put much more emphasis on improvement within his own team.
Billings Senior enters Friday with a 2-1 record, having scored 64-46 and 54-19 victories over Laurel and Hellgate, respectively, prior to dropping a 42-32 decision to Sentinel. The visiting Lady Broncs placed third at last year’s Montana Class AA state tournament and have some post players that will give them a height advantage over Sheridan come Friday.
Sheridan began its season at the Fremont Motors of Casper Invitational this past weekend, and the Lady Broncs logged one win against three defeats. While the early win-loss record isn’t where Ligcoki would prefer it, he definitely saw some foundational aspects for his program being laid.
“It was a productive week,” Ligocki said. “I think we all learned a little bit about each other and there are certainly good points.
“When you come away 1-3, with a losing record, you’re always a little bit disappointed, but this is not the time in the season where we are that concerned about the win-loss record. Right now we are trying to get better, and we certainly saw some things we need to work on.”
Those four games marked Ligocki’s first four as the head man for the Lady Broncs. Ligocki brings with him a wealth of knowledge within the game of basketball that excites each and every one of his players.
“It has been going great,” Jordan Christensen said. “I think it’s good to get that new, everything. Just a new offense and a new perspective in everything.”
The inevitable growing pains, however, go hand in hand with any coaching change, and the Lady Broncs got a taste of that down in Casper. Sheridan only averaged 41 points per game and was held scoreless during the first quarter of its final game of the invitational against Natrona.
The overall offensive production, or lack thereof, can be slightly misleading for the sole fact that the Lady Broncs didn’t have the services of two starters and two other role players that traveled back to Sheridan Saturday morning to take the ACT.
Even amid being shorthanded, the Lady Broncs found a way to eek out a 49-47 win over Jackson. Sheridan led for a lion’s share of the contest before relinquishing the lead late, only to regain the advantage one final time in the waning minutes.
“It is always nice to win a close one,” Ligocki said. “It’s especially nice because after we gave up the lead, the girls didn’t worry about it and fought back to get the win.”
Alli Puuri — who missed the Jackson contest along with fellow starter Kailee Ingalls — leads the Lady Broncs averaging 9.3 points per game. Christensen isn’t far behind, adding 8.5 points per game, and a pair of other teammates — Emily Kilpatrick and Mollie Morris — logged double-digit scoring nights in Casper.
The Lady Broncs just need to find a little more consistency offensively, and that will come with being a little more selfish. Even if that means going against one of Sheridan’s most endearing characteristics.