SHERIDAN—It was an intense evening of basketball at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome as the Wyoming boys and girls All-Star teams took to the hardwood against the Montana All-Stars Friday.
In the first game of the night the Montana girls jumped to an early lead but a wide-open three pointer by Jessie Underberg seemed to calm the Wyoming squad.
“We hit a couple threes and some confidence went up,” Sheridan College Lady Generals head coach Frank McCarthy said as he coached the Wyoming Girls All-Stars. “It’s amazing how when you’re making shots confidence starts to go up.”
Wyoming seemed to find a groove in the second quarter, taking a 34-29 lead into the locker room at halftime. However, they struggled in the half to stop Gonzaga-bound Jilliann Barta, who led all scorers with 13 points in the first half.
“We switched on her, and I thought that helped,” McCarthy said. “Other than that I just think we played really solid defense.”
Those adjustments worked for Wyoming, limiting Barta’s ability to attack the rim.
After a steal and a layup by Sheridan High School’s Maddy McClure brought the home crowd to their feet, Wyoming led 44-41 at the end of the third quarter.
It looked like the home team was on their way to a victory, until they missed the front end of a one-and-one twice in the final minute, barely hanging on to the 55-54 lead.
It was Montana’s Barta who stuck the dagger in the hearts of the home team and home crowd when she drained a three pointer in the final seconds to give Montana the 57-55 victory.
The intensity only settled during the Mr. and Ms. Basketball awards were introduced at halftime before picking right back up as soon as the ball was tipped in the boy’s game.
Both teams battled back and forth in the first half, as Wyoming only led 46-43 at the half. Although Sheridan led for most of he half, they struggled to ever stretch their lead.
“It was really two things,” Sheridan College coach Steve Smiley, who coached the Wyoming team, said. “Free throws and turnovers. We missed a lot of free throws, and we turned the ball over and gave them layups. That kept them in the game.”
It was Sheridan High School’s Reed Ritterbusch who got Wyoming going early in the third quarter, knocking down a couple of threes on his way to twelve straight points and got the home crowd fired up.
“It felt great,” Ritterbusch, who finished the game with 18 points, said. “It felt like I was back playing for my high school team. It was really fun.”
The game remained tight throughout the fourth quarter until Montana went on a 12-2 run, putting them up 102-95 with about a minute to go.
Some missed Montana free throws kept Wyoming in it. After forcing a turnover with nine seconds left, down 104-101, Wyoming’s Cody Kelley went to the line and knocked down two free throws.
Montana knocked down one of two at the line, but Wyoming failed to score, losing the contest 105-103.
Both teams look to bounce back tonight as they play the Montana All-Stars again on the road in Billings.
“Our guys played so hard and represented the state well,” Smiley said. “We scrapped. We can’t lose that. If we want to win we have to continue to get the 50-50 balls and team rebound.”
The girl’s team tips off at 5:30 p.m., and the boys will play at 7:30. Both games will be played at Rocky Mountain College.