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NC boys bball

Natrona's Brennan Hagar passes the ball during the Mustangs' game against Sheridan on Dec. 9 in Casper.

Head coach Jeff Martini told his Sheridan team at halftime they could not afford to let Jackson back in the game Saturday afternoon at the Casper Invite. At that point it was a 39-14 lead built on defensive pressure and forcing Jackson to settle for bad shots.

“Put the nail in the coffin,” Martini told his players.

While the Broncs did come away with a victory, 61-44 at Natrona County High School, the offense didn’t run nearly as crisply in the second half as it did initially and the defense allowed Jackson to start clawing away at the deficit. The nail didn’t necessarily get put into the coffin, but the lid stayed shut.

“I feel like we didn’t do that as well as we potentially could have,” junior Parker Christensen said. “It’s one of the harder things to do but coach wants to push us and keep us going towards our highest level even if we’re up by 30 or 20.”

Christensen led the charge for Sheridan, scoring a team-high 17 points. At one point he scored three consecutive shots by himself, sparking a small Broncs run.

“Our team did a really good job today of really moving the ball around,” he said. “Coach really challenged us to slow down and take our time to develop.”

Sheridan’s defensive pressure was also enough to contain Rock Springs for a win on Friday. The Broncs then struggled against Evanston and, no matter how many opportunities the Red Devils allowed, Sheridan wasn’t able to take the lead.

The Broncs also played Natrona County on Saturday night to cap the Casper Invite and pulled away with a 62-43 win.

Natrona County struggled throughout the weekend to find consistency in its offense and the Broncs’ defense made sure to continue that trend. The Mustangs went 1-2 through the opening weekend with the opening win against Star Valley.

The other loss on record for the Mustangs was Friday night’s dramatic 80-77 overtime scrum with Laramie. What would have been a big win in the young season got away from Natrona County there, not unlike what happened to their cross-town rivals against Jackson earlier in the weekend.

Kelly Walsh closed its season-opening slate with a 68-59 loss to Laramie.

The young Trojans were outgunned from the start by Laramie’s multiple weapons. Seniors Nathan Burman, Asa Williams and Frank Crum all stood out on Saturday. Burman shot from the wing, Williams was able to penetrate off the dribble and Crum asserted his dominance in the paint.

Crum’s presence only solidified what Kelly Walsh head coach Randy Roden knew about his team.

“We get bullied sometimes and give up turnovers that way,” he said, “so we’re worried about that.”

A close game between the defending Class 3A state champions and one of 4A West Conference’s budding teams closed the action at Casper College.

Evanston, coming off a close victory over Sheridan on Friday night, was able to squeak out a 60-58 win. The game could have gone either way down the stretch but the Red Devils’ early exposure to potential buzzer-beaters saw them through victorious.

Rock Springs continued its fast start, scorching the Star Valley defense in a 74-57 win. Just a freshman, Graedyn Buell cemented himself as one of the best shooters in the state with a strong weekend where he averaged over 30 points per game.

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @Brady_CST

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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