SHERIDAN — In the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Billings West, Sheridan’s Annie Mitzel drove to the hoop and had what looked like an open layup. However, Tylee Manuel — one of several formidable frontline players for the Golden Bears — swooped in to block the shot. After the block, the ball hit Mitzel on the shoulder as she stepped out of bounds, resulting in a Sheridan turnover.
It was that kind of night for the Lady Broncs, who faced a far superior team and fell 67-22. The loss dropped Sheridan to 1-8 overall.
Billings West used its experience and significant height advantage to control the interior and force turnovers on defense. The Golden Bears had a massive rebounding advantage as well, which caused Sheridan to get into early foul trouble and put some of its key players on the bench.
The Lady Broncs put Billings West in the bonus less than four minutes into the first quarter, part of the reason why the Golden Bears scored 13 points on free throws in the first two quarters and take a 34-7 lead into halftime.
Sheridan head coach Larry Ligocki said Sheridan has played with better intensity over the last three games, an encouraging sign.
“Effort is coming, and hopefully we can get some of those skill things — handling the basketball, passing, knocking down short shots — those are the things we’re working on,” Ligocki said.
Ligocki said it can be difficult to stay positive for players and coaches, but the team is very young and showing signs of progress as the season goes along.
“You always start to question yourself a little bit when you look up at the scoreboard and you’re losing these games,” Ligocki said. “…None of us are really used to losing to this extent, but I do see little glimmers of light every now and again.”
Mollie Morris provided one of those glimmers in the third quarter, tallying five points in the Lady Broncs’ best stanza of the evening. Her first and second points came when she converted a layup on a backdoor cut 15 seconds into the quarter, the first field goal for Sheridan in more than 10 minutes of game action.
Sheridan scored eight points in the third quarter, more than the team’s total in the first half. The Lady Broncs played solid defense and were only whistled for three fouls in the quarter, compared to six against the Lady Golden Bears.
With an inexperienced team, success cannot only be measured on the scoreboard. It needs to come in areas of growth, both individually and as a team.
“We’ve got work to do,” Ligocki said. “We’ve got kids who have always been pretty successful who just need to put some time in and build that skillset that’s required at this level.”
The team has a short turnaround and doesn’t have much time to dwell on the blowout loss, something Ligocki said is probably a good thing.
The Lady Broncs host Kelly Walsh Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Billings West…18 16 17 16 — 67
Sheridan…..6 1 8 7 — 22
Billings West — Dolan 15, Tyl. Manuel 14, M. Albrecht 10, Montague 9, Koch 6, Tyr. Manuel 4, Harper 2, Ellis 2, W. Albrecht 2, Grossman 1
Sheridan — Mitzel 5, Morris 5, Moser 4, Rafferty 3, Wilson 2, Beard 2, Ligocki 1