SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School boys basketball team doesn’t just have swagger this season, they have a ton of swagger. At a tournament in Riverton a couple weeks ago, Sheridan’s Tristan Bower threw a lob off the backboard, in traffic, that Gus Wright corralled and threw down for a dunk.
The sequence — something seen in a pick-up game during the summer — exemplified the oodles of confidence the Broncs possess.
Some coaches may cringe when their players attempt a high-risk play such as that but head coach Jeff Martini just lets his horses run.
“I think it’s awesome when it works, and it’s really bad if it doesn’t work,” Martini said. “… It’s an injustice to try take a lot of that away from them because that’s what makes them really good basketball players. It makes them play free and makes them have fun, and that’s part of being a basketball player. I don’t try and take any of that stuff away. I don’t like it if it doesn’t work, but at the same time if it does, hey it looks great.”
Martini feels as though this year’s team embodies what he’s wanted for the last few years. In his three years as head coach, the 2018-19 rendition of the Broncs is precisely what he’s tried to develop.
Martini has skill, size and versatility all over the floor, but no player is pigeonholed into a certain style of play. Six-foot-7 Wright can step out and knock down 3-pointers; point guard Tristan Bower has freedom to drive and finish, drive and kick or hoist a heat check if he’s open and on balance.
Bower played heavy minutes last year as a junior, and with three senior starters graduating from last year’s squad that finished runner-up at state, he was in charge of ushering in the new era of Bronc basketball.
“At the beginning of the year we weren’t sure where kids were going to be,” Bower said.
“We had a lot coming up that hadn’t had varsity minutes, and they have worked their way in and have some minutes now. We’ve come together as a unit, and now they kind of know their position on the team and it helps.”
Sheridan enters conference play with a 9-1 record, it’s only loss coming at Billings West. Taking away the pair of games against the Montana-based Golden Bears, the Broncs are slaughtering Wyoming competition.
Sheridan is averaging 73.1 points per game and only surrendering 48.1 points per contest. The smallest margin of victory this season is 13 points against Kelly Walsh and in that game Martini turned to his deeper bench players down the stretch when the Trojans made the game appear closer.
Bower makes everything go for the Broncs, pouring in 20.5 points per game. Post players Wright and Sam Lecholat add 11.4 and 11.2 points per contest, respectively, and Parker Christensen chips in 9.8 points per game.
The entire team is an eclectic mix of ages from sophomores to seniors, but all enjoy being around one another.
“They all like to hang out with each other, and that’s kind of the cool thing,” Martini said. “They’re never yelling at each other. They’re getting on each other to push each other, but they really, really care for each other, and they really want to win.”
And won they have. The Broncs will look to log a couple more victories with conference bouts against Thunder Basin and Campbell County this week. Sheridan travels to play the Bolts Friday before returning home and hosting the Camels Saturday at 7 p.m.