By Jeremy McDonald
With how the first 16 minutes of the Western Christian-Sheridan game was looking, most would figure the game would side the Pioneers up 47-28.
Western Christian were rolling. Jaaron Jenson hit five three’s in the first half, Austin Sladek led the game-high 16 while the Spartans found themselves struggling in what would be a high-scoring, 77-61 game. by the end of it.
Unbeknownst to those soon to witness the third quarter if Head Coach Steven Grauer gave some 300 speech during halftime, but his Sheridan troops came out of the halftime break with everything they had. And soon enough, that 19-point deficit was down to 51-45 following Gavin Anderson splitting at the free throw line with time to play in the third. The Sparts had flustered Western Christian, who were looking to stop the run at any cost to persevere their lead that stood to two possessions.
“We just had to come out here and compete because we blew it open in the first quarter,” Sheridan’s Randy Gibson pointed towards a 12-10 game early on. “We can compete with them, we just have to lock-it in the first half so we can keep the score first. We just have to play like that the whole game. Play with our defense.”
Mentally, both teams were challenged as if it was Pendleton. The crowd in The Barn were nuts. Both Grauer and Pios Gary Hull were animated from their bench. Sheridan were energetic, but here came the fame echo of Western Christian slapping the court to cheers from their home squad as if this was at the Roman Coliseum.
Yes Russell Crowe meme, this was an entertaining game with the Pioneers pushing their lead back to 14, 61-47 during the fourth quarter.
“We started the game off great. We were playing team basketball. I think what killed us in the third quarter was our energy, it’s been a tough week and we just have to bounce back and be ready for next week,” Jenson said. “It’s tough, a team goes on a big run like that. We just have to lock in and I tried to lead as much as I can. Slowing everything down, we didn’t need to force anything. We just had to slow it down like we did in the first half.
“It’s just playing as a team, playing as one. Not ‘Me’ but ‘We’ and just looking through all our eyes working together.”
With another four games scheduled this upcoming week with Delphian, Sheridan once more, Gervais and Kennedy, the madness will continue as the Pioneers look to keep pace with the one-loss Trojans and Salem Academy down the stretch.
The Sparts however, weren’t done quite yet in their first meeting as they got the game back down to ten with 4:40 left. Making the game 64-54, but couldn’t make another mammoth run at it like they did a few minutes prior with the rematch Wednesday at Sheridan.
“We’re just going to get ready for next week, we play them next week and we’re going to try harder,” Sheridan’s Cesar Casillias said. “We just got to focus up, lock-in and that’s pretty much it.”
Casillias finished with 17 points, Gibson contributed another 16 for the Sparts, who plays Gervais. Western Christian, Salem Academy and Colton this upcoming week. Austin Sladek had a game-high 27 points for Western Christian. Jensen added another 18 and Chaz Storm scored 15.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald