SHERIDAN — The coaches, just as much as the players, needed this past weekend to end like it did. The Sheridan High School girls basketball team won two of its three games during the Taco John’s Invitational in Cheyenne, and the two victories provided further proof of the Lady Broncs’ progress in the early stages of the season.
“I’ve been saying this over and over again, but it’s absolutely the truth; we really needed them,” Sheridan girls head basketball coach Larry Ligocki said of the wins. “I think from a team standpoint, you have to get a couple wins every now and again, and I say the team needed it, but the coaching staff needed it a little bit too.”
Sheridan will look to build off the 2-1 weekend — which boosted the Lady Broncs’ overall record to 3-6 on the season — and log another win Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Natrona. More specifically, the Lady Broncs hope to duplicate this past weekend’s fourth quarter against Rock Springs.
Sheridan found its offensive footing in a big way against the Lady Tigers as the Lady Broncs tallied 30 points in the game’s final eight minutes to rally for their third win of the season.
That 30-point outburst came just two periods after Sheridan managed only three free throws during the game’s second quarter. Ligocki acknowledges the cliche that a basketball game encompasses many runs, and his team isn’t immune to that phenomenon.
“We will have a great quarter and the next quarter we will fall flat,” Ligocki said. “There were ups and downs all weekend, and the thing I like about our kids is when we encourage them to forget about the scoreboard and just come and play hard, the girls play much better.”
The Lady Broncs are averaging 46.3 points per game this season, but in the last five games that scoring clip has increased to 50.6 points per contest, which includes 59- and 61-point scoring efforts.
The lowest scoring output in the last five games for the Lady Broncs occurred Dec. 22 at Natrona where they only managed 40 points in an 11-point defeat. That marked Sheridan’s second worst offensive night, in terms of points scored, this season, and its third worst occurred during the Fremont of Casper Motors Invitational Dec. 10 against the same Natrona team — the Lady Broncs only tallied 42 points in a 19-point loss.
But those lopsided losses reside in the rearview mirror for a Lady Broncs team starting to feel more comfortable on the offensive end of the floor.
“Each week we just have a main focus of getting better and better,” Sheridan’s Riley Rafferty said. “The coaches are making us focus on just playing basketball. … They want us just to play basketball and not worry about all the little things. … That’s when we play our best and that’s what we did this past weekend.”
Rafferty has taken that to heart and has come on as of late, pouring in a combined 24 points in the last two games. Fellow senior classmate Alli Puuri is averaging 11.5 points per game in that same two-game stretch.
Natrona, as a team, is averaging 52.2 points per game and yielding just 41.9 points per contest.
Prior to the Lady Broncs battling the Fillies, they’ll travel to play Billings Senior Friday at 7:30 p.m. Sheridan and Billings Senior played a very competitive game Dec. 15 in Sheridan’s home opener. Billings Senior created some distance in the second half, but Sheridan rallied to take a brief lead with under a minute to play before faltering.
Friday and Saturday mark the final two nonconference games of the season for Sheridan, and the Lady Broncs hope their recent success spills over to not only this weekend but into the final two months of the season, as well.