SHERIDAN — As the Sheridan High School boys basketball team travels to compete in the East/West Tournament hosted in Casper this weekend, the Broncs will look to figure out how the experienced players will mesh with the young talent on the team.
“We need to figure out what we are and what we are made of,” head coach Jeff Martini said. “I am anxious to see how the kids respond to that.”
The Broncs two All-State ball handlers from last season — Tristan Bower and Parker Christensen — graduated, leaving the roles open for competition with the possibility of some younger players earning the spots.
The Broncs also return two All-State players in junior Sam Lecholat and senior Gus Wright, along with other players that helped contribute to the team last year.
The Broncs have players that have proven themselves at the varsity level and athletes that show potential but are untested. The first weekend of games will show how well the two groups will mix.
“You just have to mesh, that’s what you talk about when you try to have all these younger guys come in and the older guys come in is how well are we going to mesh, how well are we going to play as a team? Because it is not one person or two guys that are going to lead us to anywhere,” Martini said. “We all have to all together buy in and do our jobs.”
Wright said he sees two or three younger players earning varsity minutes and has been impressed with the team’s effort to start the year.
“We have a lot of guys that are working really hard and our intensity level has been high,” Wright said. “Our defense has been really good, I have been really impressed with how our young guys have been working.”
Lecholat was one of the younger players who received varsity minutes last year and knows what it is like to be asked as a sophomore to contribute to the varsity team.
“It is obviously cool because you are a sophomore, but it means nothing because you are playing the same level of basketball like everyone else is,” Lecholat said. “It is a challenge for someone, but you have to remember it is just basketball — you just have to go out there and play well.”
Young players being tested include Reed Rabon, Frank Sinclair, Zach Koltiska and Carter Dubberley.
Martini said the team will be evaluated after every game, looking to see where improvements need to be made. During the non-conference period, the Broncs will experiment with different lineups and combinations.
The Broncs will play Rock Springs, Kelly Walsh and Green River high schools in the East/West Tournament.
“It would be great to win all three of them, but we are not concerned about that,” Martini said. “We really got to focus on getting better each day and we have to take this tournament for that. Just to try to get better and see our weaknesses and improve on those.”
Martini said each team will be a test for the Broncs. Rock Springs usually brings a lot of energy to the court that can be hard to match and Kelly Walsh looks to be one of the top teams in the state again this year.
Wright said Kelly Walsh usually has good athletes and good coaching, making them one of the top teams each year.
The first games of the year always bring excitement for the players.
“Everybody is ready to play,” Wright said. “Nothing is more fun than games, so we are super excited to get out there.”
For coaches, it is a time to see what kind of team they have this year. Martini said he knows the players think they are ready, but the games will determine if they are truly prepared.
The Broncs will have one opportunity to play at home before the break. On Dec. 21 at 2 p.m., the Broncs will host Buffalo High School in a non-conference, interclass game.