Garrett Chesney and the Sheridan Blackhawks couldn't slow down the red-hot North Montgomery Chargers on Tuesday night. Photo by Neil Burk
Garrett Chesney and the Sheridan Blackhawks couldn't slow down the red-hot North Montgomery Chargers on Tuesday night. Photo by Neil Burk
SHERIDAN - Some nights, there aren't any explanations.

Tuesday night proved to be exactly that as the Class 2A Sheridan boys basketball team ran into the sharp-shooting 3A North Montgomery Chargers.

Falling behind fast, the host Blackhawks could do little but admire the Chargers' shocking efficiency on offense as they shot a blistering 76 percent from the field to win 89-40.

"It was incredible," Sheridan head coach Chris Schrank remarked after the game. "I wish it would have happened on a different night."

The Blackhawks (3-4) were looking to bounce back into the win column after dropping back-to-back games to 3A Tri-West and 2A Taylor last weekend.

Shooting 48 percent from the field, including 50 percent in the first quarter (6 of 12), they put themselves in position to compete against most teams. But it was a matter of volume, and the Chargers (4-5) converted on 35 of 46 attempts. For good measure they were 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Grant Gayler, a Bethel College commit, scored a team-high 23 points for the Chargers, hitting his first nine attempts from the field and a free throw. His first shot didn't rim out until 6:20 left in the third period.

"He really played well. He hasn't been shooting the ball well lately, and we talked to him about it," North Montgomery head coach Joel Grindle said. "Tonight, he took good shots and took good shots off the stuff we wanted him to. Guys were finding him, and he wasn't afraid of finding his teammates."

Caleb Randolph backed up Gayler with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Gayler finished the night 10 of 13 with two dunks and three rebounds in just three quarters of work.

"We knew (Grant Gayler) was a good player. We knew (Caleb Randolph) could shoot. And I told our guys that we don't want them to get a clean look and get some confidence going, but sometimes you just can't guard them" Schrank said.

The Blackhawks' defense was far from lifeless against the Chargers.

They contested shots, forced North Montgomery to shoot from the perimeter, pressed their guards in full-court and half-court. The Chargers just couldn't miss.

Even as the starters sat down to start the fourth quarter, the bench picked up right where they left off to score 29 points in the final eight-minute stretch.

Jordan Lewis added 11 points in a little more than 12 minutes of action while three other of his second-unit cohorts also flirted with double figures.

"I don't think our defense was that bad; they just made shots," Schrank said. "When you shoot 76 percent, you're going to beat a lot of people."

North Montgomery shot 7 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half and were 6 of 7 in the second half. Up by 15 points in the first quarter after two quick and short-lived ties, the Chargers seized the game's final lead change to pull ahead by 20 points.

At halftime, North Montgomery led by 22 points and the lead swelled to 29 points in the third quarter before it broke open to a decisive 47 points by the final buzzer.

"I thought we established things offensively early, and I thought our kids were unselfish and looking for the open man more so than we have all year," Grindle said. "When you move the ball, it makes things look pretty easy."

Sheridan was led by Brock Kitchel with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the floor. He buried 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and the team converted 18 of 37 attempts from the field.

Jake Chesney chipped in six points along with Chris Roberts.

"We still have 15 games to play, and I still think that if they're willing to work at it, we are a capable team," Schrank emphasized. "Obviously, we don't want to lose a game like that, but when a team shoots like this, you take it for what it is."

Dropping three straight, the Blackhawks are still trying to find their identity after a disheartening 3-18 campaign in 2013-14. Coach Schrank believes his group, which opened the year 3-1, is more than adept to turn the page by season's end.

"With me being a new coach, being here for five months, there are going to be growing pains," Schrank said. "We're still growing. We're not going to be a finish product in December.

"I asked the guys how they were going to respond. We can either hang our heads and say, 'here we go again,' or you can be a little bit more committed and a little bit more driven to get better, and that's what I think our guys are going to do."

After playing three games in five days, the Blackhawks are off until Jan. 3, 2015, when the travel to Class A Pioneer.