SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School boys basketball team didn’t expect to have as many offensive struggles as it encountered Friday night. The Broncs hadn’t been home for nearly a month, and on the road had shown a propensity to score plenty of points. But Sheridan experienced no home cooking as it fell for the second time this season to Billings Senior 56-45, which snaps Sheridan’s four-game winning streak and drops it to 7-3 on the season.
“We were just a little loose and that happens. We’re talking about high school kids,” Sheridan head boys basketball coach Jeff Martini said. “We had three good wins on the road, and we were feeling really good about ourselves, and hopefully this gets us going again. Hopefully, this gets that edge back that we’ve played with in the past, but with that being said, Senior is a super good team. It’s not like we just went out and dropped one to a bad team. They’re really good.”
The two teams squared off Dec. 15 in Billings where Senior edged Sheridan 64-59. In that contest, Sheridan found success scoring inside, unlike Friday when Billings Senior’s length gave Sheridan trouble. Senior boasted two players measuring 6-foot-7 and this made things particularly difficult inside for Sheridan.
Tristan Bower represented the only player for Sheridan to score in double figures. Bower poured in a game-high 23 points that kept Sheridan within shouting distance for most of the night.
“I was getting good looks and I was hitting my shots,” Bower said. “That helped us get back in the game for a little bit.”
Bower showcased his versatility scoring points off the dribble and from the beyond the 3-point line as he logged five treys.
“I liked that he was assertive,” Martini said. “He has to take the open shots when they’re given to him, and tonight was one of those nights that he did. He didn’t try to force it a lot, and he let the game come to him. When he does that he is, at times, unstoppable.”
Bower scored all nine points for Sheridan in the third quarter. Sheridan trailed by just three, 30-27, at halftime but didn’t score for the first 5:42 of the third period. Bower finally blew the lid off the hoop with a trio of 3s that helped trim Sheridan’s deficit from 11 points to just four at 40-36 ahead of the fourth quarter.
But that capped Bower’s scoring night and no other player for Sheridan stepped into his shoes. Billings Senior went on a quick 5-0 spurt that put it out in front 50-40 with 4:14 to play. Sheridan’s Parker Christensen logged a bucket with 2:39 to play in the game that pulled his team to within nine at 52-43 but Sheridan’s next points didn’t occur until just 28 seconds remained when the issue was no longer in doubt.
Christensen added six points and represented the only other player for Sheridan, besides Bower, to score multiple field goals.
Three Billings Senior players boasted double-figure scoring nights led by Connor Kieckbusch who recorded 17 points.
The game grinded along for a majority of the first quarter. Both clubs struggled offensively trying to crack one another’s zone defense. Four ties encompassed the opening eight minutes as the two teams entered the second period locked in an 11-11 stalemate.
Billings logged back-to-back field goals — the first team to do so — to take a 17-13 advantage with 6:30 to play in the opening half. Bower kept Sheridan afloat with five quick points that pulled Sheridan to within one at 19-18. Bower, once again, stepped up in Sheridan’s offensive struggles and tallied the last five points of the half.
The Broncs have a quick turnaround as they travel to play Natrona Saturday at 1 p.m. Sheridan and Natrona have already squared off twice this season, and the Broncs have won both by double figures. Sheridan toppled the Mustangs 62-43 Dec. 9 during the Fremont of Casper Invitational and followed that up with a 64-50 victory over Natrona Dec. 22 in Sheridan.
“We need to go into the game tomorrow with a chip on our shoulder,” Bower said. “We need to go in with something to prove, unlike we did tonight.”
Billings Senior…11 19 10 16 — 56
Sheridan………. 11 16 9 9 — 45
Billings Senior — Kiekbusch 17, Haws 15, Zimmer 12, Cobb 5, M. Evenson 5, S. Evensong 2
Sheridan — Bower 23, Christensen 6, Woodward 4, Baker 3, Lecholat 3, Sessions 3, Coe-Kirkham 2, Wright 1