SHERIDAN — Midway through the fourth quarter Thursday at Sheridan High School, Campbell County’s Trey Hladky hit a step-back baseline jumper with a Bronc draped all over him. On the ensuing possession, Sheridan’s Aaron Sessions missed an uncontested layup.
It was that kind of night for the Broncs.
Campbell County jumped out early and, for the most part, cruised to a 63-48 win, handing Sheridan its second consecutive loss.
“I think it was pretty frustrating,” Sheridan’s Tristan Bower said. “It seems like they weren’t missing at all, and we couldn’t get anything to drop.”
Thursday’s contest featured the top two teams in the East. Both Sheridan and Campbell County entered the game as the only two teams at 3-1 in the conference, and with the win, the Camels vaulted 1.5 games ahead of the second-place Broncs and Cheyenne South.
Thursday also marked the first time this season the Broncs have suffered back-to-back losses — the last such instance happening in early January last season. And it all started with, well, the start for Sheridan.
The Broncs didn’t score for the first 4:32 of the game as they got open looks but couldn’t knock them down. Meanwhile, Campbell County only managed six points during that stretch as Sheridan’s defense limited the smaller, perimeter-oriented Camels.
“I thought defensively we did a good job,” Sheridan head coach Jeff Martini said. “We played with effort.”
But that effort only got the Broncs so far. The misses kept piling up as the game progressed, and Sheridan couldn’t put any sustainable scoring run together.
“When you can’t get baskets to drop, it starts to kind of wear on you a little bit,” Martini said. “They were slowly able to expand and expand, and we weren’t able to answer.”
Bower paced Sheridan with 13 points, while Abraham Ross came off the bench to tally 11. Parker Christensen added nine points and Sam Lecholat chipped in six.
Lecholat helped spark the Broncs early as he and Bower each scored a pair of baskets in the game’s first nine minutes. Gus Wright capped a 6-0 run for Sheridan with a bucket that knotted the game at 6 with 1:55 left in the opening frame.
Campbell County — which led 12-8 at the end of the first period — used a five-point spurt to balloon its advantage to 17-10 with 5:52 to play in the half. Parker Christensen completed back-to-back old-fashioned 3-point plays that helped Sheridan cut into its deficit. But scoring droughts of 3:03, 1:22 and 1:10 prevented the Broncs from drawing closer than six, 26-20, at halftime.
The Camels took the air out of the building, pouring in 10 of the second half’s first 13 points to seize a 36-23 advantage.
Sheridan found a pinch of offensive footing as Ross and Bower combined for nine third-quarter points. However, where Ross and Bower carried Sheridan, Hladky propelled Campbell County. And the state’s leading scorer did so more effectively than any combination of Broncs.
Hladky, who finished with a game-high 25 points, tallied nine points in the third stanza to keep Sheridan at arms length.
The Broncs attempted to press to speed up the game, create turnovers and get some quick easy buckets in the fourth quarter, but Campbell County’s guards handled it and an 11-point lead grew to 17.
“By upping the tempo, it gave them open shots,” Martini said. “Sometimes you have to hope they miss those shots and they didn’t miss many tonight.”
Sheridan only strung together consecutive field goals twice in the game’s final eight minutes as the Broncs fell to 11-5.
Sheridan will look to get back on track Saturday when it travels to Thunder Basin.
Campbell County….12 14 17 20 — 63
Sheridan……………8 12 14 14 — 48
Campbell County — T. Hladky 25, Miessler 11, Olsen 9, Belt 6, L. Hladky 5, Neary 3, Russell 2, Bradley 2
Sheridan — Bower 13, Ross 11, Christensen 9, Lecholat 6, Wright 4, Woodward 4, Sessions 1