SHERIDAN — Following Friday night’s game, Sheridan High School girls basketball head coach Larry Ligocki didn’t know what to tell his team. He met with his assistant coaches prior to addressing the team after the Lady Broncs’ fifth straight loss, searching for some words of encouragement.
The end result didn’t change Saturday as Sheridan dropped a 53-48 decision to Cheyenne East, but following the game, Ligocki had plenty of positives to pass along to his team.
“I walk away and I’m much happier,” he said. “Obviously, disappointed we didn’t get the win, but we did some good things. We competed with a pretty good team today. … We looked much better than we have the last couple of weeks, so it’s a step the right direction.”
The loss dropped the Lady Broncs to 6-13 overall and 2-6 in conference, but they may have found some added scoring punch off the bench for the tail end of the regular season. With Emily Kilpatrick and Mollie Morris both nursing bruised knees, Kaylee Arbernatha and Katie Tomlinson got an opportunity to log more minutes Saturday.
And they took advantage as Tomlinson poured in 10 points and Abernatha chipped in six.
“For one, they both hit shots today, and that was excellent,” Ligocki said. “… They both play exceptionally hard, and I thought it paid off on both ends. … They gave us a spark.”
Riley Rafftery and Jordan Christensen led the scoring charge for Sheridan with 11 points apiece.
Rafferty knotted the game at 45 on a 3-pointer with 4:18 remaining. Rafferty connected on another trey with just 32 seconds remaining — to cut Sheridan’s deficit to 52-48 — but the Lady Broncs went cold from the field late.
They also struggled to break East’s press in the final eight minutes, which has been a reoccurring issue for Sheridan all season.
“I think [the Thunderbirds] saw that it was a tight game and they chose to bring the pressure a little harder in the fourth quarter than they did earlier in the game,” Ligocki said. “… We did not handle it well, and we haven’t been handling it well.”
It didn’t look good for Sheridan through the first eight minutes Saturday. The Lady Thunderbirds scored the game’s first 11 points before Sheridan finally broke through with a banked-in 3 from Tomlinson at the 3:35 mark of the opening quarter. East continued to impose its will in the paint and owned a 19-10 lead ahead of the second stanza.
The Lady Broncs began to chip away at their deficit, and four quick points from Christensen cut Sheridan’s deficit to four at 25-21 with 3:27 left in the opening half. The Lady Broncs went into the locker room on an 8-2 run — getting 3s from Tomlinson and Rafferty — to knot the game at 29.
Christensen gave the Lady Broncs a 37-33 lead on a field goal with 3:27 to play in the third period. However, the next seven minutes saw Sheridan go without a field goal as they only scored two free throws and fell behind 43-39 with less than six minutes to play in the game.
Sheridan travels to Cheyenne South Friday. The Lady Broncs edged the Lady Bison 48-47 Jan. 20 in Sheridan on a game-winning shot from Katie Ligocki with less than five seconds to play.
Cheyenne East….19 10 12 12 — 53
Sheridan…………10 19 8 11 — 48
Cheyenne East — McEwan 12, Blawey 10, Erickson 7, Miller 5, Fagenbush 5, Rotert 4, Carlson 4, Auhmiller 2, Espinoza 2, Brady 2
Sheridan — Rafferty 11, Christensen 11, Tomlinson 10, Coon 8, Abernatha 6, Ingalls 2