SHERIDAN — It appeared the Sheridan High School girls basketball team would end the first quarter only trailing by 10 points against one of the best teams in the state. In the final seconds, though, a rebound was tipped around and ended up in the hands of a Thunder Basin player who banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to gain a 20-7 lead.
After the fortunate bounce to end the first stanza, the No. 2 Lady Bolts steadily increased their lead as the game went along, coming away with a 69-26 win over Sheridan Saturday afternoon. The Lady Broncs are now 0-5 in quadrant competition on the season, while Thunder Basin improved to 5-0.
The Lady Bolts’ aggressive perimeter defense caused trouble for Sheridan throughout the game. On the other end, Thunder Basin moved the ball well and set each other up for quality looks almost every trip down the floor. The Lady Bolts hit nine 3-pointers overall and often corralled offensive rebounds on 3s they missed.
Thunder Basin put the game out of hand in the second quarter, outscoring Sheridan 16-2 to take a 36-9 lead into halftime. Sheridan’s MiKayla Johnson made a contested layup about two minutes into the third quarter to make the score 41-12. Unfortunately for the Lady Broncs, it was their first field goal in just under 14 minutes of game time.
Sheridan head coach Larry Ligocki said Thunder Basin’s relentless full-court pressure caused trouble for most of the contest. The Lady Bolts also played extremely hard throughout the game, something from which Sheridan could learn and try to emulate.
Ligocki also said the Lady Broncs needed to do a better job getting creating space for passing windows against the Thunder Basin press.
“I didn’t think our hustle was quite where it should be,” Ligocki said. “When we were cutting to the ball, one of the things I talked to them about is, ‘The only way you create space on the basketball floor is going full speed. If you’re just jogging, it’s very easy to defend you and the passes don’t come open.’”
Sheridan is currently 2-17 overall. The losses can be tough to deal with, but Ligocki said if the coaches and players honestly look themselves in the mirror and focus on areas where they need to improve, this season could be beneficial in the long run. That doesn’t make it any easier in the short term, however.
“We can get down on ourselves, but it doesn’t make us better,” Ligocki said. “…“It’s demoralizing sometimes when you’re getting beat that bad, but that’s something we’ve gotta overcome. For the most part, these girls have done that. They’ve come out and played fairly hard.”
Ligocki still has fun most of the time but said it can be frustrating as losses continue to mount.
“As a coach, it has been tough,” Ligocki said. “It’s still fun, I still enjoy it, but … coming up on the bottom end of these little battles on the court is not what we desire.”
It has been a long season full of losses, but Ligocki said the team will focus on beating Natrona County this Friday. A win would grant Sheridan the third seed from its quadrant in regional competition next weekend.
With hopefully a better understanding of where they need to improve, the Lady Broncs will focus on picking up a win in the last home contest of the season.
Sheridan hosts Natrona Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Thunder Basin…20 16 20 13 — 69
Sheridan………….….7 2 9 8 — 26
Thunder Basin — Miller 15, Geer 13, McGrath 13, Conklin 7, Strub 7, Tarter 6, McInerney 4, Drube 3, Kuntz 1
Sheridan — Johnson 6, Mitzel 6, Beard 5, Moser 3, Christensen 2, Morris 2, Brown 1, Ligocki 1