A chance to enhance special evening

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SHERIDAN — Honoring the seniors in their final home game will already make Friday night’s game against Thunder Basin special for Sheridan. The Broncs have an opportunity to enhance the experience with a victory that would clinch the regular-season conference title.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it,” Sheridan’s Blayne Baker said. “I’ve been playing since I was a sophomore in this gym. I’ve been practicing every day. I come here in the summer every day. It’s kind of an end of an era for us seniors.

“It ought to be an emotional night, but it should be fun, especially if we win.”

Baker joins fellow starters Aaron Sessions and Aaron Woodward and bench players Abraham Ross, Kyle Custis and Noah Erickson as individuals who will play their final game on their home floor. Those six, plus Lady Broncs Riley Rafferty, Kaylee Abernatha, Alli Puuri, Kailee Ingalls, Emily Kilpatrick, Katie Tomlinson, Bailey Coon and Zoie Jones, will all be recognized following the girls game against Thunder Basin, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

The Broncs have sat atop the conference for the majority of the season. They currently boast an 8-2 record, 16-5 overall, and hold a two-game lead over Cheyenne East and Cheyenne Central. Sheridan swept the Thunderbirds while splitting its two games against the Indians. Any combination of a Central loss or a Sheridan win will give the Broncs the crown.

Sheridan travels to play rival Campbell County Saturday afternoon — the Camels downed the Broncs in the teams’ first matchup — while Central plays host to Laramie Thursday before hosting Cheyenne South Friday.

The Broncs, however, aren’t letting any of those scenarios cloud their vision.

“I think we just need to focus on ourselves,” Baker said. “We don’t look at the record. We don’t look at the conference standings. We just like to focus on ourselves. We just take every day as a chance to get better. (Head) coach (Jeff) Martini always says, ‘If you don’t get better every day, you get worse.’ If we just keep with that mentality, we can have a chance to do whatever we can do — whatever we want to do as a team.”

That mentality has helped position the Broncs a cut above the rest in a conference that has seen quite a bit of parity. Where other teams have faltered on the road or let one loss turn into two or three, Sheridan has remained consistent.

In the Broncs’ only conference road loss of the season, a two-point defeat against Central, they led at halftime. In Sheridan’s lone conference home loss, it simply ran into a hot-shooting Camels team.

In Martini’s eyes, the Broncs’ success comes down to one simple thing.

“I think it’s just the ability for our guys to work hard,” Martini said. “The hard work these guys put in every day at practice, and never wanting to lose anything, is really their mindset day in and day out. I’m not sure every other team has that. We just have that competitiveness that we aren’t going to lose.

“Sometimes we don’t win, but at the same time we always play with an extreme passion, and I think our guys do a great job with that in the tough games.”

This season marks Maritni’s second as the head man of the Broncs. Many of his players sported varsity uniforms prior to him even taking the job. Those veterans have welcomed and embraced Martini, which has fruited a bountiful season.

And the former Sheridan Bronc couldn’t be more grateful.

“It’s going to be sad to see them go,” Martini said. “They’re guys that have really bought in these last two years and have given me every single thing that I’ve asked. … It’s going to be hard to replace guys that have been so dedicated.”

The Broncs’ game against Thunder Basin is slated to tip at 7 p.m. Friday. Sheridan rallied to beat the Bolts 65-57 Feb. 3 in Gillette.

In the Broncs’ only conference road loss of the season, a two-point defeat against Central, they led at halftime. In Sheridan’s lone conference home loss, it simply ran into a hot-shooting Camels team.

In Martini’s eyes, the Broncs’ success comes down to one simple thing.

“I think it’s just the ability for our guys to work hard,” Martini said. “The hard work these guys put in every day at practice, and never wanting to lose anything, is really their mindset day in and day out. I’m not sure every other team has that. We just have that competitiveness that we aren’t going to lose.

“Sometimes we don’t win, but at the same time we always play with an extreme passion, and I think our guys do a great job with that in the tough games.”

This season marks Maritni’s second as the head man of the Broncs. Many of his players sported varsity uniforms prior to him even taking the job. Those veterans have welcomed and embraced Martini, which has fruited a bountiful season.

And the former Sheridan Bronc couldn’t be more grateful.

“It’s going to be sad to see them go,” Martini said. “They’re guys that have really bought in these last two years and have given me every single thing that I’ve asked. … It’s going to be hard to replace guys that have been so dedicated.”

The Broncs’ game against Thunder Basin is slated to tip at 7 p.m. Friday. Sheridan rallied to beat the Bolts 65-57 Feb. 3 in Gillette.

By |Feb. 21, 2018|

About the Author:

Bud Denega joined The Sheridan Press in November 2017 as the primary sports reporter. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Wyoming. Prior to working in Sheridan, Bud spent time as a sports reporter for the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota, before being a sports reporter for the Laredo Morning Times in Laredo, Texas. Email Bud at: bud.denega@thesheridanpress.com

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