SHERIDAN — Nothing went right for the Sheridan High School boys basketball team in Billings Friday. The Broncs didn’t lock in defensively and couldn’t buy a bucket for most of the night. That resulted in their first loss of the season. Saturday provided Sheridan with an opportunity to rebound at home against Kelly Walsh. The Broncs rediscovered their form and earned a 70-57 victory over the Trojans to improve to 9-1 on the season.
“We had to bounce back a little bit after a tough defeat, and I thought our guys played with a ton of energy,” Sheridan head coach Jeff Martini said. “I thought they ran up and down the floor exceptionally well. I felt it was more our team than what we saw [Friday] night.”
The 41 points scored Friday against the Golden Bears marked the lowest offensive output for Sheridan this season — its previous low standing at 66 points. Only two players scored in double figures and the Broncs failed to tally double digits in two of the four quarters.
“Most of the game didn’t go right,” Martini said. “West is a good team, and they were really excited to play at home, and they played with a lot more energy at home than what they played with here (earlier in the season). … We didn’t do a great job defensively, and we just couldn’t get anything to go, offensively.”
Martini was concerned that those struggles Friday could have festered with his team only having about 13 hours in between arriving back in Sheridan late Friday night and tipping off against the Trojans Saturday afternoon.
But Saturday saw Sheridan get out in transition when advantageous, drive downhill and make the extra pass to an open shooters. The Broncs hit eight shots from 3-point land and 15 of 20 from the free-throw line, and didn’t have a quarter in which they failed to score at least 17 points.
Tristan Bower paced Sheridan with 23 points, which included a trio of treys. Sam Lecholat added 14 points, and Gus Wright chipped in 11, nine of which occurred during the second half.
Wright scored four quick ones, two dunks, right after halftime that gave the Broncs a double-digit cushion at 40-30. Bower tallied the next five points for his team and his 3 with under a minute left in the third quarter matched Sheridan’s largest lead at 53-38.
With some deeper bench players contributing, the Broncs stretched their lead to 20 on a couple free throws from Lecholat. However, Sheridan didn’t handle the Trojan’s late full-court press all that well, turning the ball over numerous times — an issue that has plagued the Broncs for most of the season — which allowed Kelly Walsh to creep somewhat closer before the final whistle.
Sheridan used a couple quick 5-0 jolts to jump out to a 17-8 edge in the opening quarter. A 7-0 run for the Broncs gave them their first double-digit lead of the game at 28-17, but Kelly Walsh closed the half on a 9-3 run to pull within two possessions.
Sheridan played better Saturday and walked away pleased with how it responded from its first loss of the season. But the Broncs know they have to sharpen their game with conference play just around the corner.
“I thought we came together as a unit (Saturday),” Bower said. “It’s a good way to end the weekend, especially heading into conference next week.”
Sheridan opens conference play at Thunder Basin Friday before returning home and hosting Campbell County Saturday.
Kelly Walsh… 8 22 8 19 — 57
Sheridan…….17 19 17 17 — 70
Kelly Walsh — McAdam 30; Padilla 9; Coventry 8; Shopp 4; Wiggins 4; Marsh 2
Sheridan — Bower 23; Lecholat 14; Wright 11; Boint 7; Gregory 6; Christensen 5; Ahrens 2; Rickett 2