SHERIDAN — The Sheridan College women’s basketball team hosted Gillette College Friday night at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome in the opening round of the Region IX tournament. The two rivals split their regular-season matchups, both ending in single-digit decisions.
The No. 4-seeded Lady Generals didn’t allow any drama to creep into Friday’s contest.
With the rubber match having plenty more at stake, Sheridan left little doubt as it claimed the season series with a 68-40 victory over the No. 5-seeded Lady Pronghorns.
“It all stemmed from the defensive side because that gave ourselves a chance to make our offense go and really deflated them,” SC head coach Ryan Davis said. “As we started to loosen up, we ran the the floor harder, we got some offensive rebounds, we got to the free-throw line and we started knocking our shots down.”
The Lady Generals advance to battle top-seeded Western Nebraska at Casper College Wednesday. The Lady Generals dropped both of their regular-season games against the Cougars. Western Nebraska toppled SC 70-50 Nov. 18 in the golden dome and 85-56 in Scottsbluff Nov. 29.
“They’re going to be tough,” Davis said. “They have a lot of firepower, and they have a lot of kids that score.
“… If we shoot the ball well, and we can get good open looks, and maybe confuse them a little bit defensively, I think we can be right there.”
Sheridan would like to get another defensive performance like it had Friday. Gillette entered Friday averaging just north of 69.1 points per game. The Lady Pronghorns only had seven at half, and tallied half of their total points in the game’s final period when the issue was no longer in doubt.
Sheridan held Gillette to 25 percent (13 of 52) shooting from the field. The Lady Generals killed the Lady Pronghorns on the glass, outrebounding them 57-26. Gillette was missing a starting post player, but that didn’t take away from the defensive effort in Davis’ mind.
Sheridan didn’t set the world on fire offensively, connecting on 39.1 percent (25 of 64) of its field-goal attempts. The Lady Generals did, however, earn themselves multiple second-chance opportunities with 23 offensive rebounds.
Raelynn Keefer paced Sheridan with 13 points, which included a trio of 3-pointers. Lily Jex came off the bench to tally 12 points, while Aloma Solovi and Brooke Cargal chipped in 10 points apiece.
“We shared the ball well,” Davis said.
Keefer jumpstarted the Lady Generals with a 3-pointer to open the scoring. The trey was a sight for sore eyes as SC’s leading scorer failed to score for the first time all season in the Lady Generals’ final regular-season contest.
“It was really nice to make that first one,” Keefer said. “I’ve struggled for a few games, so it was nice to see that first one go in.”
Sheridan’s defense stepped into the lime light for the remainder of the half. After Gillette scored back-to-back field goals to take a brief 4-3 lead — its only lead of the game — the Lady Generals held the Lady Pronghorns without a point for the next 9:12.
That defensive intensity fruited a 14-4 advantage midway through the second quarter that grew to 21-7 at halftime.
“We flew around defensively and rebounded really well in the first half,” Davis said. “We kept everything in front and contested shots.”
Sheridan ballooned its lead to 20 points with 4:24 to play in the third stanza, and the Lady Generals’ cushion only shrunk below 20 points the rest of the way.
Gillette…….4 3 13 20 — 40
Sheridan….9 12 21 24 — 66
Gillette — Engesser 13, Filip 11, Sarra 8, Urbatsch 8
Sheridan — Keefer 13, Jex 12, Cargal 10, Solovi 10, Frampton 7, Hoyer 7, Parttimaa 4, Storeshaw 3
Gillette 26 (Neff 5); Sheridan 57 (Frampton 15)
Gillette 4 (Umphlett 2); Sheridan 20 (Jex 4)