SHERIDAN — Whether it’s AJ Bramah stuffing the stat sheet or Adham Eleeda catching fire from 3-point land or Cam Reece owning the paint or Josh Bagley hitting a big shot with the game hanging in the balance, the Sheridan College men’s basketball team can hurt opponents in a variety of ways. That should bode well for the Generals as they prepare for their first national tournament appearance in more than a decade.
“It’s a thing where it’s difficult to scout (against us),” SC head coach Matt Hammer said. “You pick your poison on who you want to shut down and who you want to be help-oriented off.”
Six different players this season have led SC in scoring in any one game during Region IX play. Bramah tops that list, having paced the Generals in eight such games. Reece isn’t far behind, leading the team in scoring seven times during conference play. Eleeda has carried the heaviest scoring load in five contests. Sean Sutherlin has done it twice, while Bagley and Sasa Vuksanovic have held top-scoring honors once.
Sheridan has five players who average double figures on the year. Bramah scores 13.6 points per game. Eleeda tallies 13.4 points per contest. Cam Reece sits right at 13 points per game, while Javary Christmas and Sutherlin add 12.3 and 10.5 points per contest.
That diversified of a scoring attack is unlike most of the top teams in this year’s tournament. Of the top eight seeds, none boast five players who average more than 10 points per game. For example, top-seeded Northwest Florida State has only three players averaging double figures.
No. 2-seeded South Plains and No. 3-seeded Vincennes have four each averaging above 10 points per contest, and No. 4-seeded Coffeyville — the team Sheridan would play if it beats Kaskaskia in the opening round Monday — has only three players averaging north of 10 points per game.
Those aforementioned teams primarily have one or two guys they lean on each and every night. And that’s how Sheridan has been in years past.
Last season, Channel Banks — an honorable mention All-American — led SC, pouring in 17.7 points per contest. Two years ago, Xavier Jackson (13.2 points per game) paced the Generals and before that it was Pablo Rivas (19.5 points per game) and Jamir Andrews (18.9 points per game).
And while those teams knew what player to give the ball late in the shot clock or late in a close game, Hammer would much rather have the balance that he has this season.
“It’s great being balanced, but it’s also kind of a struggle in games like we had on Saturday against Casper, where you need to have one guy step up and get you a bucket,” Hammer said. “Last year in Channel Banks, you had that guy. So this year we’ve had to do it a little bit more by committee.
“But I’d rather have it that way. I’d rather be a team that’s balanced and plays together, and you’ve never know who’s going step up.”
Ten times this season during conference play, SC has had four players tally more than 10 points. The Generals have had at least three players score in double figures six times, while they’ve had five or more players score north of 10 points in four games.
That’s proof of an unselfish team, and that’s precisely the kind of squad Sheridan is.
“We are at our best when we are sharing the ball,” Bagley said. “… Every time we get a win, when we usually blow out teams, we usually have like 20 assists.”
In region play, the Generals are averaging 17 assists per game in victories and just 11 dimes per contest in losses.
That’s evidence of a team that enjoys playing together and enjoys seeing other succeed. If the Generals can keep that team-first mentality, they like their chances of advancing in Hutchinson, Kansas.