SHERIDAN — The Sheridan College men’s basketball team is loaded with sophomores — full of players who have played plenty of basketball and have a lot of experience in a number of different situations.
But it was a freshman that kickstarted the No. 10 Generals Wednesday night inside the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome.
Jay Lewis didn’t play the entire first half against Eastern Wyoming College Wednesday. He didn’t shed his warm up until the early stages of the second half when the Lancers made it a one-possession game.
Lewis entered the contest and immediately jolted the Generals to life. The Houston native sparked his team to a 65-44 victory, which improved SC to 21-1 on the season and 7-0 in Region IX play.
“We have five sophomores starting the second half, and we are absolutely dead, just no energy at all. We had to bring a freshman in to get us going,” SC head coach Matt Hammer said. “I told Jay, ‘He changed the game.’ … He came in and gave us instant energy, which is what Jay does.”
Lewis’ final stat line won’t show a very impactful contribution, only scoring five points, but those five points occurred at a critical juncture. Sheridan held a 27-19 lead at halftime — its lowest offensive output in a first half this season — and the struggles continued into the second 20 minutes.
Lewis’ first basket made it a 29-26 game with 15:23 to play in the contest, and his second capped an 8-0 run that gave the Generals some breathing room at 39-28 with 12:16 left.
“He gave us a lot of energy,” Sheridan’s Sean Sutherlin said. “We came out slow in the second half, and once he got in, he brought us a bunch of energy.”
Suthlerin had a hand in a 7-0 spurt that extended Sheridan’s lead to 54-33 with 8:35 to play, and the Generals kept their distance the rest of the way.
Sutherlin finished with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds. Javary Christmas added 12 points off the bench, and Cam Reece recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Only three Generals scored in double figures and much of that was due to Eastern Wyoming’s pace. The Lancers slowed the game down significantly and dictated the pace in the first 20 minutes.
“They slow it down a lot,” Sutherlin said. “They shoot with like four or five seconds left on the clock, and they get back on defense every time. We like to run in transition, and not being able to do that kind of frustrated us a little bit.”
The Generals shot just 39 percent in the opening half and committed 10 turnovers. SC picked it up offensively in the second half, finishing the game at 44 percent shooting (21 of 48).
Sheridan’s defense did its part holding the Lancers to just 34 percent (16 of 47) from the floor. The Generals also won the battle on the boards 45-23.
“Any time you hold a team to 44 points, you can look at it as a good defensive effort,” Hammer said. “I thought our guys did a good job of guarding their actions. … For the most part, it was a really good defense effort. But on the flip side, [Eastern Wyoming] is not trying to get a bunch of possessions. They are slowing it down and taking their time.”
Sheridan College visits Western Wyoming Community College Saturday. The Generals dominated the Mustangs 94-58 Jan. 12 in Sheridan.
Eastern Wyoming…27 38 — 65
Sheridan College….19 25 — 44
Eastern Wyoming — Arvidsson 14; Meadows 10; Hook 5; Tiley 4; Garner 4; Mirich 3; Baker Jr. 3; Larson 1
Sheridan College — Sutherlin 16; Christmas 12; Reece 10; Bagley 9; Bramah 8; Lewis 5; Blake 3; Murphey 1; Eleeda 1
Eastern Wyoming 23 (Meadows 9); Sheridan College 45 (Reece 10)
Eastern Wyoming 5 (Hook 2); Sheridan College 12 (Bagley 4)