SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School boys basketball team represented the only team in the county that punched a ticket to the state tournament. The Broncs advanced to the state title game, eventually losing to rival Campbell County in the state championship game, 71-61.
Sheridan, in year two under head coach Jeff Martini, took the step from a third-place team to a state runner-up.
“We had a pretty great season,” Sheridan’s Gus Wright said. “We went 20-8. We made it to the state championship, and that’s not something a lot of Sheridan teams can say they did for basketball. So I think as a whole, we did a pretty good job.”
The Broncs next step forward would involve raising its first state title banner since 2003, but that quest will not include a few key cogs from this past season. Sheridan has to cope with the graduation of starters Blayne Baker, Aaron Sessions and Aaron Woodward and sixth-man Abraham Ross. Those four combined to average 23.8 points per game — 38.6 percent of the the Broncs’ scoring output.
All-State selections Tristan Bower and Parker Christensen return to the starting rotation next season, but after that, bench players from this past season will have to fill some pretty big shoes.
“I think the roster could look good,” Bower said. “We still have Gus and Sam [Lecholat]. They’ll play a big role, and Parker, he’ll be big. I think we just need a few guards, maybe Ethan Rickett and Jacob Boint, to fill in those spots.”
Bower led the Broncs in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per contest, which positioned him third in the East Conference and fifth in the state. Bower connected on 53 percent of his shots from inside the 3-point arc this past season, however, it’s that 30 percent mark from deep that he’d like to address this offseason.
“I’d like to improve my shooting from the 3-point line and be able to knock those down,” Bower said.
Bower took a significant leap from a reserve player tallying 2.7 points per game as a sophomore into a consistent scoring leader that garnered All-State recognition as a junior. The Broncs would like to see a similar bump in production from players like Lecholat and Wright.
“Me and Sam, we’ve talked about it a lot, how me and him are hopefully going to make a big contribution next season,” Wright said.
Lecholat and Wright came off the bench this past season to spell Baker and Christensen down low. Both Lecholat and Wright showed flashes of post moves and the ability to knock down jumpers.
But perhaps Lecholat and Wright’s biggest impact on the game is the matchup problems they pose to opponents. Wright stands 6-foot-7 while Lecholat stretches 6-5, and that gives a point guard like Bower plenty of options.
“It’s nice to have those two because if we need to, we can just slow the game down, let them work together,” Bower said. “It’s just another option for me to dish it to them down low and get easy buckets.”
Wright averaged 4.3 and Lecholat tallied 4 points per contest in 2017-18, while the two combined to corral more than six rebounds per game. They join frontcourt teammate Christensen, who averaged 10.2 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per contest.
The backcourt after Bower is a little less clear. Boint played in 20 of 28 games but only scored a total of nine points. That will need to get sorted out, and if it does, the Broncs could once again find themselves contending for a state title.