SHERIDAN — Sheridan College men’s basketball lost to one of the top teams in the region Tuesday when they faced Western Nebraska Community College.
WNCC had a player that recently transferred from Division I programs West Virginia University and Wichita State University and is predicted to be a top team in Region IX, said head coach Cody Ball. The Generals ended up losing the game 84-73 but made WNCC earn every basket. WNCC starting lineup averaged 6 feet 4 inches and taller while the Generals started three players at 6 feet or shorter.
Within the first five minutes of the game, SC lost their two starting post players. The tallest player for SC for most of the first half was sophomore guard Marcus Stephens at 6 feet 3 inches and had freshman Tristan Bowers playing center at 6 feet tall.
Despite the height advantage, SC had a 33-24 halftime lead and had 16 offensive rebounds in the game, 11 more than WNCC. The Generals out rebounded WNCC 40-39.
Ball said one of the critiques of the defense is there is the possibility of allowing rebounds because players are not matched up with each other. It was a goal from SC to rebound well and was a reason why they had a chance to win the game.
“We just fought,” Ball said “We played incredibly hard for 40 minutes. I would go into a dark ally with any one of these guys because they are going to fight, they are going to be tough. They are not afraid of whoever is standing across from them. All of those offensive rebounds are just effort and toughness.”
The Generals played came out in a 1-3-1 zone and stayed in the zone for most of the game. Ball said his assistant coach Tyler Hurley had a lot of experience coaching against WNCC during his time at Casper College and knew and after scouting WNCC did not handle a zone defense well. They will try to break it by shooting 3s and will miss most of them. The theory held true as WNCC shot 14% from 3 in the first half and was 31% from the field.
Ball said the Generals installed the zone defense the day before and only had 20 minutes of experience running the defense before the game started. Having a solid zone defense gives the Generals some options moving forward and can make them hard to scout against.
The second half was a different story as WNCC heated up from deep, making 58% on 3s in the second half and shooting 69% from the field, ending the game with 50% field goal percentage.
The Generals were not able to match WNCC’s shooting percentage, shooting 29% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc.
Ball said the ball started to drop for WNCC and did not drop for the Generals.
The Generals scored 24 points from the free-throw line and only missed three of their opportunities. JaVon McClanahan was a perfect 14 of 14 from the free-throw line and ended the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Brett Thompson scored 23 points and was the only General able to make more than one 3-pointer attempt, shooting an efficient five of 10 from deep. Ball said Thompson not only has a good shot but uses his quickness to penetrate the defense and score some layups.
Stephens scored 21 points in his return to the court following an injury last week, giving the Generals some experience on the floor.
McClanahan, Thompson and Stephens scored 65 of the Generals 73 points. WNCC had five players with double-digit points.
SC’s next game is on the road at Miles Community College Nov. 8.