SHERIDAN — The No. 19 Sheridan College men’s basketball team’s game against Western Wyoming Wednesday at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome closely resembled a contest last month — a game against the same Western Wyoming club.
However, the team with more points when the final buzzer sounded Wednesday represented one of the rare differences. The Generals got some revenge and toppled Western Wyoming 76-71 to improve to 21-3 overall and 7-2 in Region IX.
“The difference was we came together as a team this time,” Sheridan’s Channel Banks said. “… At the end of the game we hit big shots and free throws to win the game.”
The Mustangs rallied for the victory back on Jan. 13. The Generals held a lead for a good portion of the second half of that game but couldn’t hold on, snapping their 12-game win streak.
Western Wyoming attempted to write a similar ending Wednesday. The Generals led for the entire second half, but the final 20 minutes didn’t lack their fair share of tense moments.
Sheridan opened up a 62-53 advantage with 4:48 to play on a couple free throws from AJ Bramah, who finished with 12 points and team highs in rebounds (eight) and assists (five).
Bramah scored Sheridan’s next two points on a field goal that snapped an 8-0 run from the Mustangs, as the Generals held a tenuous 64-61 lead with just over three minutes left.
Sheridan ballooned its lead to 69-63, making five free throws in a row, and Western Wyoming misfired on back-to-back front-end free-throw attempts that could have made things much closer.
Western Wyoming’s Nathan Fromm — who poured in a team-high 22 points — drained contested 3-pointers on consecutive possessions that made it a three-point game at 74-71 with 12 seconds to play. But Sheridan made five of its final seven freebies — the final two off the hand of Banks with just over 10 seconds left — to seal the win.
“We were getting stops when we needed to,” Banks said. “… It shows we can be a good team, make free throws, and beat any team down the stretch.”
Banks finished with a game-high 27 points, while Sean Sutherlin came off the bench to add 18 and Camron Reece chipped in 14.
Ladan Ricketts — a starter and the Generals’ fourth-leading scorer — missed Wednesday with an illness. He also missed the first matchup against the Mustangs, and his absence made things difficult offensively for Sheridan.
“You can’t help off him because if you do, he’s going to hurt you,” Sheridan head coach Matt Hammer said of Ricketts. “And it’s not just when he’s standing still, but when he’s coming off screens it stretches guys off and extends guys to help off him and it frees up a lot of guys.”
Sheridan, as a result, only made 3 of 12 from beyond the 3-point arc. This forced the action inside for the Generals, who did a better job attacking the rim, earning 28 of their 35 free-throw attempts in the second half.
“The guys did a good job being aggressive against (Western Wyoming’s) zone early in the second half and getting to the line,” Hammer said.
“We still have a lot of stuff to clean up — valuing the ball late, especially with the lead, just knowing time and score — but the guys pulled it off and got the win.”
Sheridan built a 31-16 lead with just under four minutes to play in the first half and looked as though it would run away with the game. But Western Wyoming closed the half on a 13-0 run. The Mustangs dug themselves another double-digit deficit midway through the second half, but much like the first half, fought and scrapped their way back.
The Generals travel to play Miles City Community College Saturday at 4 p.m. SC topped the Pioneers 102-70 in Sheridan Jan. 17.
Western Wyoming….29 42 — 71
Sheridan……………..31 45 — 76
Western Wyoming — Fromm 22, Adamu 19, Alldredge 9, Sidberry 8, Agu 6, Peters 5, Rosette 2
Sheridan — Banks 27, Sutherlin 18, Reece 14, Bramah 12, Bagley 3, Anguik 2
Western Wyoming 29 (Adamu, Sidberry 5); Sheridan 38 (Bramah 8)
Western Wyoming 4 (Adamu 2); Sheridan 13 (Bramah 5)