Prep basketball: Broncs, Lady Broncs start new year in Riverton

Lady Broncs look for three more road wins to start 2014

SHERIDAN — The Lady Broncs were one of the top performing teams as they left the court for the holidays.

With a new head coach, Sheridan perpetuated success of recent years, starting with six wins and one loss for the second season in a row, dominating three teams in Green River at the Flaming Gorge Classic. This week they’re off to the East-West Classic in Riverton. Head coach Jessica Pickett said they scrimmaged a lot during break, taking advantage of SHS alumnae back in town for the holidays, keeping with tradition.

“Makes for a lot of fun and so really good basketball,” she said. “Aside from that, we really tried to get a lot of shots up and focus on the fundamentals.”

Sheridan’s one loss was suffered at the hands of a strong No. 1 Natrona team (8-2) on Dec. 13. Besides that, they rolled through the Flaming Gorge with three nearly 30-point wins.

“Thanks to the December games and our time at the Flaming Gorge tourney we really got to play a lot of basketball,” Pickett said. “Over the break we talked a lot about the areas we can get better at including our defense intensity and the rebounding battle. Those will be two focus areas as we continue into the month of January.”

The month starts with another long road trip and a tournament, this time in Riverton where the Lady Broncs meet the Lady Wolverines for the second time this season. Sheridan won 61-31 at home in early December.

“This weekend as we head to the Riverton tournament we are hoping to have a chance to really work on some of our focus areas,” Pickett explained. “I think these teams will give us good competition and a chance to keep working on ‘our game.’

The East-West Classic will also feature Cheyenne South, but neither Sheridan team will see the Bison until later in January. Sheridan sees Kelly Walsh and Evanston Friday and Saturday, teams with 2-4 records.

“We are looking forward to the weekend and I think the key for us is to really focus on our defense and getting the stops we need so we can really transition the way we like,” Pickett said. “As always, taking care of the ball, and winning the battle of the boards will really be important as well.”

As has been the case of late, the Lady Broncs score as a team. Shooting 54 percent from the field, Robbi Ryan swelled her 4A East leading scoring with a good Flaming Gorge effort and is hitting for 13.9 ppg through seven contests, with Taylor Townsend, Emily Julian and Maddy McClure chipping in 11, 7.9 and 7.4 points per game respectively.

Sheridan’s second-rated 60.7 ppg is behind only Gillette, and they’re posting a 21.1 margin of victory.

Sheridan begins in Riverton Thursday with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff at Riverton High School. They’ll play Kelly Walsh at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Central Wyoming College before closing with a 3 p.m. Saturday game at CWC against Evanston. Broncs games follow each girls contest.

After closing a home and away non-conference slate with Natrona and Billings Skyview next week, the Lady Broncs make the long trip to begin 4A East play at Laramie and Cheyenne South Jan. 24-25.

Broncs take 6-1 record back on the road

SHERIDAN — The Broncs begin the new year similar to how they finished the old one.

Off to another long weekend tournament, this time in Riverton, the 6-1 Broncs should be fresh after taking 11 days off during break to get healthy.

“We now have three kids ready to play this weekend that have been injured all or part of the season,” head coach Gale Smith said. “I also wanted our kids rested and hungry to get back in the gym going into the stretch run of the season.”

He added that they’ve focused on conditioning, defense and rebounding and making sure they “get after it in the six practices we have before we play Riverton.”

The Broncs handled the Wolverines easily in their first meeting — a 77-66 win at SHS — but an away contest right out of a break could prove more challenging. Sheridan takes the floor for the first time in 18 days Thursday.

“Riverton is a real good up-and-coming team,” Smith said. “They have great guard play and can really hit the open shot. We are going to have our hands full with their pick-and-roll style of offense. The key will be to not let them shoot the ball well in their own gym.”

Tough matchups with Kelly Walsh (4-2) and then Evanston (3-5) should get the Broncs going again. A well-balanced team with size, speed, good guard play and good shooting, Smith explained, KW emerged before Christmas as one of the teams to beat in 4A.

“Their strength is their defense and rebounding,” he said. “And, their post play is very physical. Our hands will be full with this team too. The key will be our defensive rotations in defending their post play.”

The Broncs get the Red Devils at 4:30 p.m., Saturday. Last year’s 4A state champs, Evanston was in action last weekend when they beat Jackson and Star Valley.

“Evanston is a team that is really improving and picking up wins every weekend,” Smith said. “They are very physical and disciplined and don’t make many mistakes.  It is going to take a great team effort to defend them and their structured offense.”

The Broncs average 68.3 points per game, second only to Gillette (7-2) at 74.5 ppg. Conversely, the Broncs allow 54.4 ppg, and are winning games by an average of 13.9 points.

Senior Reed Ritterbusch closed 2013 strong, scoring 20 points in all three games at the Flaming Gorge as he pushed his average to 19.6 ppg while shooting 49 percent from the field.

Junior Dylan Daniels is close behind at 14.1 ppg, leading all 4A teams with his 6.4 assists per contest. Senior big man Judson White is chipping in 10.1 ppg.

Sheridan’s one loss this season was at the hands of Vernal, Utah, to begin the Flaming Gorge, but the Broncs showed resolve in bouncing back with a 11-point, fourth-quarter comeback against Rock Springs the following day before capping 2013 with a 78-71 win over Union, Utah.

Sheridan has one more weekend of non-conference play after they return from Riverton when they finish a home and away series with Natrona and Billings Skyview next weekend.

They open 4A East Conference action Jan. 24-25 at home against Laramie then Cheyenne South.

About

Brad Estes

Sheridan Press sports editor

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