SHERIDAN — With 4:35 to play in the third quarter of a game at Sheridan, Cheyenne East’s Demetrius McCord ran over to his head coach, Rusty Horsley, and told him, “I need help” in regards to trying to defend Sheridan’s Parker Christensen. The second-leading scorer on the No. 2 ranked team in the state needed help defending the third-leading scorer on the No. 1 ranked team in the state. And it was a gross understatement.
The discourse between a frustrated player and a coach searching for answers perfectly encapsulated what transpired Saturday afternoon at Sheridan High School. The Broncs ran circles around the once-beaten Thunderbirds en route to an 86-57 victory.
“What we talked about before the game was, ‘Let’s put one together,’” Sheridan head coach Jeff Martini said. “We’ve had games where we’ve been up 20, and we’ve given teams an opportunity to breathe again. So we said, ‘Let’s play a full game.’ And I thought our guys, for the most part, played a great game from start to finish.”
The wire-to-wire victory stemmed from the play of point guard Tristan Bower. The senior poured in 27 points — scoring at least five points in every quarter — which included four 3-pointers.
Defensively, Bower drew the tall task of defending Erik Oliver, who entered Saturday averaging the same amount of points per game as Bower (20.3). Oliver bested Bower on the final score sheet, tallying a game-high 29 points, but many of those buckets were hollow in a lopsided loss.
“Those are two of the best players in the state,” Martini said. “It was fun watching them kind of battle each other. Neither one of them did a really great job of stopping one another. Both of them can score really well, so it’s hard to guard.”
The supporting casts made the difference Saturday. Bower received plenty of help, as Sam Lecholat added 20 points, while Christensen and Gus Wright chipped in 17 and 10 points, respectively.
McCord represented the only other Thunderbird to score in double figures with 12 points.
“My teammates were getting me good looks, and I was getting them good looks. We did it all together,” Bower said. “… Sam, he was on the boards, and he scored a lot. Gus had a lot. Parker had a lot. It was just all around.”
The Thunderbirds carried a nine-game win streak into Saturday with each win coming by at least 11 points. East led the state, averaging north of 73 points per game, and wasn’t too shabby on defense, surrendering just under 54 points per contest.
Sheridan did serious damage in both categories. The Broncs eclipsed 50 points with more than a minute to play in the first half, while East’s 57 points scored in the game was its lowest point total in a month and third-lowest of the season.
None of that surprised Martini, though. Sheridan’s head man knew his team had a little extra motivation with Saturday standing as the lone regular-season meeting between the Broncs and Thunderbirds.
“I know our kids were really excited,” Martini said. “They knew Cheyenne East was a really, really talented team. … I knew they had this one kind of marked, and I thought our kids were full of energy and did a great job.”
The win pushed Sheridan’s record to 14-1 while the loss dropped East to 14-2. The Broncs will make their final trip to the southeastern reaches of the state next weekend.
Sheridan travels to Cheyenne South Friday before taking the quick bus ride over the pass to Laramie for a date with the Plainsmen Saturday.
Cheyenne East…19 12 17 9 — 57
Sheridan…………25 26 20 15 — 86
Cheyenne East — Oliver 29; McCord 12; Aumiller 9; Muchmore 4; Buell 3
Sheridan — Bower 27; Lecholat 20; Christensen 17; Wright 10; Gregory 8; Rickett 4