SHERIDAN — Defensive rebounding off of missed free throws nearly doomed the Sheridan High School girls basketball team Saturday afternoon against Cheyenne South. The Lady Broncs failed to corral three missed free throws in the final 1:44 of the game.
However, the ability to rebound after a missed free throw also hurt South. In fact, the one the Lady Bison failed to record ended up killing them.
With under five seconds left in the game, Sheridan’s Katie Ligocki reeled in a missed free throw from teammate Jordan Christensen and put it back up and in for the game-winning bucket in the Lady Broncs’ 48-47 win over the Lady Bison.
“I just heard (Christensen) yell, ‘Off,’ and the first thing I thought was I have to get that rebound,” Ligocki said. “I wasn’t really paying attention to the time — which probably isn’t good — I just knew we had to score to get that last point up on them.”
What made the shot especially satisfying, and redeeming for Ligocki, was the fact that she presided as one of the culprits that missed a defensive rebound on the other end.
“That was super frustrating,” Ligocki said. “I just couldn’t quite reach a rebound. You always want to get them, and when you give up that offensive rebound, it’s a mini loss for us. It was hard, but that’s kind of what fueled me to get the offensive rebound on the other side.”
The Lady Broncs owned a 37-32 lead at the end of the third quarter and extended that cushion to 43-36 on a basket from Christensen with 5:35 to play in the game. However, the Lady Bison went on a 10-0 run to seize a 46-43 advantage with just 1:37 left. Sheridan’s Katie Tomlinson canned two freebies at the 1:14 mark, which, after one free throw by South with under a minute to play, set the stage for the late heroics.
“It was a game that really didn’t go the way that we wanted it to go,” Sheridan head coach Larry Ligocki said. “We thought we’d play better than that today. But on the positive side of that, we ended up getting the win. And in crunch time, the girls kept that composure, knew the situation and put the shots up when they had to.”
Saturday provided another learning experience for the Lady Broncs. Just 14 hours prior to the opening tip, Sheridan earned its first lopsided win of the season, and Saturday represented a game where the Lady Broncs didn’t play the way they wanted but still found a way to win.
It also marked Sheridan’s fifth win in its last six games — fifth straight over Wyoming competition — and improved it to 2-0 in conference play.
“This was a good one to chalk up for experience, even though maybe we got outplayed down the stretch,” Larry Ligocki said.
Alli Puuri, who fouled out prior to the game-winning possession, paced Sheridan with 13 points. Tomlinson added 10 as nine Lady Broncs scored at least one field goal.
Both teams struggled early on. The Lady Bison logged the game’s first back-to-back field goals — which closed the book on the opening eight minutes — that gave South an 11-8 lead. Sheridan held the Lady Bison without another field goal until Autumn Shrove connected on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer just before half that cut the Lady Bison’s deficit to three at 24-21.
All eight of South’s other points in the second period occurred at the free-throw line. In the meantime, the Lady Broncs went on a 7-0 run followed by a 7-2 stretch, which helped them gain the upper hand.
Sheridan enjoyed another 7-0 spurt during the third period that helped them stretch its lead out to five ahead of the final eight minutes.
Cheyenne South…11 10 11 15 — 47
Sheridan………….. 8 16 13 11 — 48
Cheyenne South — Brown 15, Shrove 11, King 9, Ogle 7, Sena 5
Sheridan — Puuri 13, Tomlinson 10, Ligocki 5, Coon 5, Kilpatrick 5, Christensen 4, Jones 2, Morris 2, Ingalls 2