SHERIDAN — You wouldn’t have guessed No. 15 Sheridan College had 26 days off prior to its Region IX opener against Central Wyoming Wednesday night at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome. The Generals appeared sharp, focused and ready from the opening tip, and it showed in a 112-83 beatdown of the Rustlers to win their 12th in a row and improve to 15-1.
“It’s always a little nerve-racking going into the first game back from break, but I felt for the most part we played well,” Sheridan head men’s basketball coach Matt Hammer said. “… It was a good team win. … We told our guys they had to create their own energy and they came out from the start and set the tempo.”
SC opened the game on an 18-0 run that included 10 points from Cam Reece, who, like every other General, hadn’t seen game action since Dec. 15. Sheridan originally scheduled a game against the Wyoming All-Stars just after the new year, but that game got canceled, so the Generals had nothing but holidays and practices for nearly a month.
Reece believed that long layoff attributed to the hot start Wednesday.
“I was definitely ready to get back to games,” Reece said. “And honestly, we were all ready and all prepared. The coaches did a great job preparing us for this game as we’ve been in the gym working really hard.”
SC shot a smoldering 65.6 percent (42 of 64) from the floor, which included connecting on 57.1 percent (16 of 28) of its 3-pointers.
Five Generals posted double-figure scoring efforts. Channel Banks led the way with 25 points, six assists and six rebounds. Laden Ricketts added 20 points on six treys; Reece tallied 19 points and four rebounds; Keenan Dowell scored 14 points and dished out six assists; AJ Bramah logged a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds; and Josh Bagely came off the bench to chip in 10 points.
Hammer couldn’t have asked for much more offensively, but what impressed him more transpired on the other end of the floor. The Generals held Central Wyoming to just 40 percent shooting (26 of 65) from the field.
“Defensively, we made some changes from the first semester and it really involves guys talking a lot more and communicating a lot more,” Hammer said. “For the most part, they did it. Aside from about two or three shots, I felt like every shot (the Rustlers) took, they had to work for.”
Central Wyoming didn’t score its first point until the 14:58 mark of the first half and didn’t tally its first field goal until some 40 seconds after that.
Ricketts hit a pair of 3s on back-to-back possessions that gave the Generals their first 20-point lead of the game at 31-10 with 9:52 to play in the opening half.
Central Wyoming cut its deficit to as little as 13 points at 47-34 with the help of an 11-3 run. Sheridan grew its lead back to 54-39 at the break, but those minor lulls during the first half, concern Hammer moving forward.
“The biggest thing we took away from the game was those peaks and valleys,” Hammer said. “We have to stay away from peaks and valleys. When our good is going, we are really good. And when our bad is going, we are really bad. We have to start playing with more of an even keel.”
Sheridan did that for the most part in the second half. The Generals regained their 20-point advantage at the 15:25 mark and took their first 30-point lead with 4:25 left in the game before easing off the gas down the stretch.
Sheridan College returns to the floor Saturday at 5 p.m. when it travels to play Western Wyoming.
Central Wyoming………………………..38 45 — 83
Sheridan……………………………………54 58 — 112
Central Wyoming — White 28, Finstuen 12, Colley 11, Galante 8, Tanksley 8, Ulker 8, Hunte 5, Washington 2, Spence 1
Sheridan — Banks 25, Ricketts 20, Reece 19, Dowell 14, Bramah 13, Bagley 10, Anguik 6, Sutherlin 3, Griffith 2
Central Wyoming 30 (Finstuen 8); Sheridan 44 (Bramah 14)
Central Wyoming 11 (White 3); Sheridan 23 (Banks, Dowell 6)