In a game that featured 148 field-goal attempts, 54 fouls, 61 free-throw attempts and a Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym record 50-point performance, 16th-ranked Casper College held on for a 111-103 victory against Sheridan College on Wednesday.
The T-Birds (16-2, 3-0 Region IX North), who have now won 10 in a row, took the lead for good at 9-6 on Dathan Satchell’s corner 3-pointer and led by as many as 20 on two separate occasions, but the Generals (13-6, 1-2) refused to go away.
That was primarily because of sophomore guard JoVon McClanahan, who scored 39 of his record-setting 50 points in the second half. McClanahan finished 14 of 20 from the field, was 5 of 6 from behind the arc and made a living at the charity stripe, where he was 17 of 20.
“It was a weird game,” Casper College coach Shaun Gutting said. “We’d do some good things offensively and then I’d look at the scoreboard and we would only be up by 10 or 11.”
Despite McClanahan’s second-half heroics, the Generals never got closer than the final eight-point margin. Spurred by a mini-run that featured some calls that had players and coaches from both teams questioning the officials, Sheridan College pulled within 89-79 with 7 minutes remaining.
But back-to-back drives from Isaiah Banks and Jalen Harris fueled an 11-4 run by the T-Birds to give them some breathing room. The Generals’ fate was sealed just a couple minutes later when McClanahan went to the bench with his fifth foul. The technical foul ended a personal 7-0 run that had trimmed the T-Birds’ lead to 107-96.
“I think our on-the-ball defense wasn’t as bad as it felt like,” Gutting said. “I just thought it was a really tight whistle and it put us in awkward positions.”
Those tight whistles helped Sheridan College outscore Casper College 33-9 at the free-throw line. The Generals finished 33 of 43 from the charity stripe while the T-Birds were 9 of 18.
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Casper College was able to take a 57-40 lead into the locker room despite leading scorer David Walker taking just one first-half shot and failing to score.
Harris, the sophomore point guard, had 14 of his team-high 30 points in the first half while freshmen Traizon Byrd (13) and Satchell (12) combined for 25.
“When a player like David is down it’s good to have someone step up and fill that void,” Harris said. “We have players like Traizon and Dathan that can score the ball and give us offense. It all balanced out tonight.”
Byrd, who entered averaging just 5.7 points per game, finished with a career-high 23; Satchell added 12 on four 3-pointers. The T-Birds also got 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots from sophomore Philip Pepple Jr. and 11 from Walker.
“It all started with what I did in practice this last week and then I just carried it into the game,” said Byrd, who also pulled down nine rebounds. “We depend on each other. If one of our guys isn’t feeling it then someone else has got to step up.”
The 6-foot-7 native of Huntsville, Alabama, scored eight points on two triples and a fast-break dunk as part of a 14-2 run that gave the T-Birds a 74-54 lead early in the second half.
Gutting knew it was only a matter of time before Byrd had a breakout game.
“It was great to see Traizon play well,” the first-year coach said. “I think our coaching staff has known all year he was very capable, we just hadn’t seen it. He’s had moments where he’s looked great and then he resorts back to where he he’s 18, 19 years old.
“I think his ceiling is unbelievably high. I was glad to see him play well because we needed it tonight.”
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN