For those new to the Mike P. weekly column, I’m a big ol’ basketball fan. That goes for my personal life and my journalism life.
I’ve written this before, but I encourage you even more than I ever have to pay attention to the Sheridan College Generals.
When I arrived in Sheridan, I quickly understood what football meant to this community. Before that, I got a taste of rodeo for the first time — also a big deal in the area.
But I needed my basketball fix.
I bounced around the county covering almost two handfuls of high school hoops teams — a hearty helping of the sport which my home state often claims as its own. I know, I know, James Naismith — a Canadian — invented the sport in Massachusetts and later brought it to the University of Kansas.
Even a Wyoming boy, Ken Sailors, popularized the jump shot.
But we will claim basketball in Indiana and I’ll take that to my grave, darn it!
But I digress. The point here is that I needed basketball and as much of it as I could get.
For four years, I’ve followed and covered the Generals, the closest I could get to the NCAA Division I roots that engulfed me back home. Driving to Laramie every couple days to cover the University of Wyoming wasn’t realistic, so I’d lay camp at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome.
Talented players came and went — some to four-year programs, some of those to D1 four-year programs.
I did my best to understand the junior college level, why players come to a little town in Wyoming to play basketball and what that little JUCO does to help those players move ahead. Some players stood out more than others on the floor; some stood out more in casual conversations and postgame interviews.
I must say, although we’re just now hitting the midway point of the SC season, this year’s team stands out more in both areas.
The Generals came in at No. 19 in the most recent National Junior College Athletic Association rankings, the team’s first time in the top 25 since the 2013 preseason polls. They’re two points away from a 14-0 record, and the resume stacks up pretty nicely, as the ranking accurately depicts.
Now, as I shift my duties at The Press, I’ve had the chance to cover this team, but I’ve also taken off my journalism hat and just watched as a casual bystander.
My goodness is this team athletic.
In an earlier story, I tried to think of a nickname for the team. Dunktown? SheriDUNK College? Apparently, I’m not that creative. But it doesn’t matter. Whatever we want to call them, the Generals make defenders look foolish. Cam Reece has dunked on so many poor opponents he’s now selling posters out of a truck in the school parking lot.
That’s a joke, NJCAA. He’s not actually doing that.
But he could. As could AJ Bramah. Caleb Stewart? Yep, bunnies. Keenan Dowell threw one down with two hands over the weekend. Worland’s Cody Baumstarck? Yeah, he’s had some dunks this year, too. It’s probably easier to point out the guys who don’t dunk regularly than the guys who do.
Ladan Ricketts is back stroking 3s from all the way in his old driveway in Livingston, Montana. Channel Banks is the leading scorer who isn’t afraid to wink at the opposing crowd after torching the defense.
They’re fun; they’re talented; and they’re winning ball games.
I encourage you to soak up the basketball in Sheridan County. From the high school teams up to your beloved Pokes, there’s plenty of room for more fans, and they’re always welcomed. Make sure the Generals fit in there somewhere.
You won’t be disappointed.