SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School boys basketball has had the state tournament on its mind the entire season. Punching a ticket to the grandest stage stands as the first goal the Broncs set each and every year.
With that goal accomplished, Sheridan now sets its sights on advancing at state, and making it back to the title game for the second consecutive year. And to do that, head coach Jeff Martini has instilled a simple step-by-step process.
“One possession at a time, one quarter at a time, one game at a time. You have to look at it from that perspective,” Martini said. “You can’t start looking ahead and making plans for what might happen Friday and Saturday. You have to compete every possession, and you have to win each quarter. That’s our message, ‘Don’t overlook anything.’”
The top-seeded Broncs take on No. 4-seeded Evanston in the opening round at Casper College Thursday at 9 p.m. Sheridan dominated the Red Devils 69-41 in both team’s regular-season opener.
The Broncs have dominated and overmatched many, if not all, of their opponents this season. They’ve defeated their foes by an average of 21.7 points per game, and the Broncs have yet to have a game against Wyoming competition decided by fewer than 11 points.
With the state tournament comprised of the very best in Wyoming, the Broncs could experience more resistance than they’re accustomed to. If that happens, they are ready for it.
“Martini has really prepared us for those moments in practice,” Sheridan’s Tristan Bower said. “We are always doing close game-like situations in practice because we’ll probably run into a closer game at the state tournament.”
Sheridan saw a little bit of everything in its journey to a region tournament championship last weekend. The Broncs played against a Cheyenne South team that stalled the ball for a majority of the game. They saw a Campbell County team — for the third time this season — and the regional semifinal matchup proved the closest of the three. Finally, Sheridan played a Cheyenne East team, in the friendly confines of its helm city, and after a sluggish start, the Broncs pushed past the Thunderbirds for another 20-point win.
“We played well,” Sheridan’s Parker Christensen said. “We got up and down the court well, we played together well as a team, and that was the main thing — everybody was doing well together. We played well as one unit and I felt like at that tournament we really came together.”
Christensen started and played plenty of minutes during last year’s state tournament run. The Broncs — a year after placing third in Christensen’s sophomore season — took another step last season, placing second.
That improvement, however, didn’t take any sting out of losing to Campbell County in the title game. That feeling has persisted this season. It has put a sizable chip on each Broncs’ shoulder, and they’ve carried that with them every step of the way.
“They’ve had opportunities where they could have had games where they let-up, but there’s not a whole lot of let-up in these guys,” Martini said. “They compete to the finish. Going through practice, it’s the same way. They want to win everything. They’re just a competitive group, and they hold each other accountable and I think they’ve done a great job of that all year.”
East holds a No. 2 seed and will play No. 3-seeded Star Valley. Kelly Walsh — which won the west region championship — plays No. 4-seeded Cheyenne Central. Green River, the west region’s runner-up, battles No. 3-seeded Campbell County.
If the Broncs advance past the Red Devils, they’d take on the winner of the Green River-Campbell County game. Sheridan has swept the Camels this season by a combined 60 points, and has yet to play Green River.