WILLISTON, N.D. — Saturday featured some unchartered water for the Sheridan College men’s basketball team. The No. 24 Generals, who had cruised to an 11-0 start to the season, dropped their first game of the year Friday against No. 16 Western Nebraska Community College and had less than 24 hours to put it in the rearview mirror.
With a fully-healthy Williston State team standing in the way, SC moved past Friday’s disappointment, bouncing back with a 117-96 throttling of the Tetons.
“They came out and responded well,” SC head coach Matt Hammer said. “They came out and had energy, and had a lot of good looks in transition off our defensive stops.”
That energy sprouted from Josh Bagley in his point guard position. Bagley, for the second consecutive night, showcased his crafty ability to finish at the rim, while also stretching the defense with his 3-point shot.
“By far the best weekend he’s had in his career, especially against two really good teams,” Hammer said. “… He’s the guy that really sticks out as the one guy that really just played with grit, toughness and was our rock this weekend.”
Bagley finished with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. He connected on five of his seven shots, including both of his attempts from 3-point land.
Bagley came on strong late last season, saving his best basketball for the months of February and March. The first month of this season saw Bagley play passively, rarely filling up the stat sheet.
This weekend something changed in SC’s sophomore guard.
“I just know that nobody in front of me can guard me,” Bagley said. “Honestly, that’s just it, and then just having that mentality.”
Cam Reece had a bounce-back game. After struggling with foul trouble Friday night, Reece made 10 of 14 field-goal attempts Saturday, totaling 22 points to go alongside his team-high eight rebounds.
Hammer wanted his team to make a concerted effort to throw the ball to Reece early and often as he’s hitting over 70 percent of his field-goal attempts on the season. SC’s big man received the ball plenty of times Saturday and turned many of those touches into points.
“He brings so much energy,” Hammer said. “… He just plays so hard, and he’s an unselfish player, and plays well defensively and he helps out so much on the glass.”
AJ Bramah also did what he does best Saturday. Bramah attacked the rim and earned himself 12 trips to the free-throw line en route to an 18-point night.
“AJ played great,” Hammer said. “… He got to the free-throw line 12 times, and when he’s going like that, we are a hard team to guard.”
Javary Christmas and Sasa Vuksanovic came off the bench to tally 13 points apiece. Adham Eleeda added 12 points off four 3s, and Jay Lewis chipped in 11 points and six assists.
“Everybody was just doing what they needed to do,” Bagley said.
The Generals connected on 58.9 percent of their shots, and half of their 12 attempts from behind the 3-point arc. SC out rebounded Williston State 44-31, while holding the Tetons to 48.6 percent shooting from the field.
The Generals went on an 11-0 run — Christmas accounting for six of those points — to turn an 11-10 deficit into their first double-digit lead of the game. SC used a 9-0 scoring jolt to lead 36-27 with 6:53 to play in the opening half before logging 10 of the final 14 points of the half to build a 56-46 advantage.
Williston State whittled the lead down to as little as six at 70-64 with 14:29 left in the contest. But Sheridan went on 8-2 and 11-0 runs to create significant distance at 96-73 with just more than seven minutes to play in the game.
The Generals, who sit with a 12-1 overall record, have a quick turnaround and host Little Big Horn College Monday at 7 p.m. SC annihilated the Rams 122-37 Nov. 26 in Crow Agency, Montana.
Sheridan College…56 61 — 117
Williston State…….46 50 — 96
Sheridan College — Reece 22; Bramah 18; Bagley 17; Christmas 13; Vuksanovic 13; Eleeda 12; Lewis 11; Sutherlin 8; Baumstarck 2; Jackson 1
Williston State — Miller 31; Jones 26; Conteh 13; Taylor-Douglas 10; Johnson 6; Paulo 5; Kinghorn 3; Davis Jr. 2
Sheridan College 44 (Reece 8); Williston State 31 (Johnson 6)
Sheridan College 16 (Lewis 6); Williston State 17 (Miller 5)