SHERIDAN — The No. 16 Sheridan College men’s basketball team didn’t have starter Camron Reece available Saturday due to an injury. The Generals suited up, but didn’t start, leading-scorer Channel Banks and double-double machine AJ Bramah.
However, the Generals, having won the regular-season region championship, earned a date with No. 8-seeded, and winless, Little Big Horn College, and as a result, didn’t need much of their heavy artillery.
Top-seeded Sheridan eased past the overmatched Rams 109-73 and advanced to play No. 4-seeded Lamar Community College in the quarterfinals Thursday in La Junta, Colorado.
That game against the Lopes — a 20-win team — will likely provide a stiffer test than the Generals have seen in their last two games. Sheridan’s previous two contests have come against the Wyoming All-Stars and Little Big Horn, both of which the Generals disposed of without having to roll out their regular rotation.
Thursday will likely bring a level of basketball Sheridan hasn’t seen since its Region IX regular-season finale against Northwest College. That potentially could pose problems, but the Generals aren’t worried about it.
“I feel like our coaches and everybody has us prepared for the competition we are about to see,” Sheridan’s Sean Sutherlin said. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind that we’ll be prepared.”
SC head coach Matt Hammer hopes his practice regiments and team’s attention to detail will shine though in the days leading up to Thursday’s quarterfinal game.
“It goes back to the old saying, ‘iron sharpens iron,’” Hammer said after Saturday’s win. “We’ll come back (Sunday), Monday and Tuesday and have three really, really good practices.”
Saturday’s game against the Rams allowed Sheridan’s bench to log plenty of minutes. While scarcely-used guys like Trace Murphey and Deone Stovall — who scored 16 and 14 points, respectively — took full advantage of their increased floor time, Hammer was particularly pleased with what he saw from Kon Anguik, Keenan Dowell and Caleb Stewart.
All three guards have seen valuable floor time in tightly-contested Region IX battles — and could see more as the Generals compete deeper into March — and Saturday afforded them a chance to start and record plenty of time to sharpen their skills.
“Keenan, he’s a guy we recruited because we knew he was a really good shooter, and his percentage might not show it this year, but we see it in practice and we know that he’s capable of doing it. He’s had a few games — Saturday and then Tuesday against the All-Stars — where he’s hit a few 3-pointers and that’s going to be huge having a guy with confidence going forward,” Hammer said. “… Caleb playing under control on offense was nice to see, and he can give us some really good minutes. And then Kon is a guy that can step in and guard a couple different spots.”
Stewart paced Sheridan Saturday with 24 points, and Dowell and Anguik chipped in nine and seven points, respectively.
Ladan Ricketts got the Generals going with seven quick points before siting for the remainder of the contest. Sutherlin gave Sheridan its first double-digit lead at 16-6 with 14:35 to play in the opening half.
Dowell’s field goal just prior to the midway point of the first half put the Generals ahead 31-11, and Sheridan built its lead up to 55-31 at halftime.
The Generals went on a 9-0 run — getting eight points from Murphey — to take their first 30 point lead of the game with just under eight minutes to play, and the advantage swelled until the final buzzer.
Little Big Horn….31 42 — 73
Sheridan………..55 54 — 109
Little Big Horn — Augustin 22, L. McCormick 15, V. McCormick 15, L. Stewart 12, Maisonnet 9
Sheridan — C. Stewart 24, Murphey 16, Stoval 14, Sissoko 12, Sutherlin 12, Dowell 9, Anguik 7, Ricketts 7, Baumstarck 4, Bagley 4
Little Big Horn 25 (Maisonnet, Stewart, Augustin 5); Sheridan 58 (Sissoko 9)
Little Big Horn 10 (Augustin 4); Sheridan 17 (Dowell 5)