SHERIDAN — Larry Ligocki remembers a time when he’d coach his two eldest daughters while, off in a corner of the gym, his third youngest daughter, Katie Ligocki, would fiddle around with a basketball on her own. The Sheridan High School girls basketball head coach didn’t know at the time if Katie Ligocki would eventually gravitate toward the sport like her older sisters.
“I thought she might be my dancer,” Larry Ligocki laughed.
It took some time, but Katie Ligocki eventually followed in her sisters’ footsteps and is competing for the Lady Broncs with a coach with whom she’s all too familiar.
Ligocki credits all of her basketball knowledge and skill to her father and her coach, who are one in the same.
“I kind of know when I’m coming to the bench, when I’ve done something, I know what he’s going to say before he says it,” Katie Ligocki said. “I can anticipate a lot of what I’ve done wrong and what he’s thinking. But I like it. I enjoy it. I think he’s a good coach.”
Larry Ligocki took over the Sheridan girls basketball program prior to the start of last season. He stepped away from the coaching circle for a few years to follow his daughter Hailey around as she competed for the University of Wyoming.
He decided to come back to coaching and lead the Lady Broncs and seize the opportunity, once again, to play a large role in his kin’s athletic career. Ligocki has coached all three of his daughters. He’s learned a thing or two on how to balance the parental and coaching duties.
It’s something he’s still trying to master.
“There’s a dynamic there that you don’t have with other kids, and despite how much you try and treat them the same, you treat them a little bit differently sometimes,” Ligocki said. “Usually, it’s you’re a little bit harder on them. I yell at all the kids every once in awhile, but there’s a little different tone sometimes when it’s your own kid.”
Ligocki commends his daughter’s receptiveness and levelheadedness when his coaching tactics can become a little heated. And the daughters said they appreciated their father’s love and devotion to the game of basketball.
This season has tested the Ligocki family and the Lady Broncs as a whole. Sheridan has endured plenty of growing pains with an inexperienced roster.
The Lady Broncs own a 1-7 record but made significant strides last weekend at a tournament in Cheyenne. Not only did Sheridan log its first win of the season, but it also showed it can compete with teams such as Kelly Walsh.
The biggest culprit right now for the Lady Broncs is playing a full 32 minutes of basketball. The shots won’t fall sometimes and the whistle will occasionally be unkind, but what Sheridan can control is its effort.
“That’s what we go into each game thinking,” Katie Ligocki said. “We are going to try our hardest. We are going to work harder than the other team, and then hopefully success will follow.”
Ligocki is averaging six points per game, while Annie Mitzel leads the team with 7.1 points per contest. The Lady Broncs are averaging 33.1 points per game and yielding 51.9 points per contest.
Sheridan’s improvement in eight games this season lies in the numbers. The Lady Broncs fell to Kelly Walsh 55-24 in the second game of the season. When the two met again last weekend in Cheyenne, Sheridan only trailed by six at halftime and scored 13 more points in the entire game.
The Lady Broncs will aim for similar improvement Friday against a team they’ve already seen this season. Sheridan hosts Billings West at 7 p.m., and a few weeks ago when the two met in Billings, the home team dominated 72-28. Friday will mark one the final nonconference games for Sheridan, as the Lady Broncs prepare for the games that truly matter starting next week.