HELENA — Winning basketball teams have a lot of different ingredients. But one that's common among championship teams are great point guards.
And while much of the attention surrounding the Helena Capital girls basketball team is focused on twin sisters Dani and Paige Bartsch, in senior point guard Jaymee Sheridan, the Bruins have another crucial element of success.
Sheridan, who is in her second year as the Bruins' lead guard, doesn't do anything flashy and she'll never lead the state in scoring, but she does currently lead Class AA girls basketball in assists with 5.14 per game. She also leads the state in total assists with 36.
Being one of the Class AA's assist leaders is nothing new to Sheridan, as she was fourth last year at 3.04 per game, with more than two additional assists per game than a year ago, she's taken her game to another level.
"She's a huge part of our success," Capital head coach Katie Garcin-Forba said. "She's great at finding the right person and she just knows when to calm things down for us when we need to make a play."
Playing with the Bartsch twins certainly makes racking up assists a little easier, but you still need players to create shots and Sheridan has that ability.
"She's really great at reading defenses," Garcin-Forba said. "There are times when I am begging her to shoot the ball more, because she's very unselfish. She's very team first and really embraces her role."
Sheridan may average just four points per game, yet her assists and ability to prevent turnovers as the point guard are proving to be vital, as is her defense, which has been solid and productive (1.5 steals per game).
"We know that she's going to step up and make the right play at the right time," Garcin-Forba said. "That's really important and she does a lot defensively that goes unnoticed. She pesters the other team."
Of course, the name Sheridan is becoming synonymous with the point guard position on the Capital girls basketball team.
Jaymee has started there for the past two years and prior to that, her older sister Sydney held down the job and was an All-State performer back in 2018 as the Bruins won the Western AA Divisional title.
Jaymee was a backup on that team, playing in 20 games that year, before seeing time in all 23 for Capital a year ago as the Bruins went 22-1, won the Western AA title again and shared the state championship with Billings West after the state championship was canceled due to COVID-19.
The Carroll soccer signee is also the daughter of former Capital state wrestling champion James Sheridan, who was the Bruins head wrestling coach (2005-2012). He was also the 185-pound state champion in Class AA back in 1987 for CHS.
Jaymee is also a state champion, but the three-sport athlete, who also runs track, would like to win a championship that wasn't shared.
"That's been a big motivating factor," Sheridan said. "You don't put in all that work and everything to be a co-champion. That wasn't our goal."
The Bruins could get the chance to be champions on their own next month in Great Falls at the Class AA state tournament (March 10-13) but first they need to get there.
As the No. 2 team in the 406mtsports.com rankings and the Western AA, the Bruins are expected to make it, however, the easiest path possible would mean getting the top seed in the Western AA.
Right now, No. 1 Missoula Hellgate is leading that race thanks to a two-point win over CHS earlier this season in Missoula. Saturday (3:45 p.m.) the two teams will meet again and as the only team to beat the Bruins in their last 30 games, it should be another classic battle.
The Bruins and Knights have also met the past two years at the state tournament. Hellgate won the third-place game in 2019 and in 2020, Capital beat the Knights in the semifinals to earn the title of co-champions.
At the Bears Den will be the next meeting, but prior to that, the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com caught up with Sheridan for five questions.
IR: How exciting is it to renew the rivalry with Hellgate?
Sheridan: "We know each other really well and we have basically been scouting them for two years. But they are developing, just like we are and it will be fun to play them again. Hopefully, we get them this time."
IR: What is it like following in the footsteps of your family at Capital?
Sheridan: "It's really cool. It's fun walking around and seeing pictures of my dad and my sister. My first two years, Sydney was ahead of me and helped develop me into the player I am today. My sister is a couple years younger than me and I'm doing the same for her, so it's kind of a family thing."
IR: Why was being a point guard a good fit for you?
Sheridan: "For soccer, I am the center-mid, so it's sort of the same principle of facilitating. Being the point guard at Capital, you have a lot of responsibilities, you have to know all the positions and all the plays, but it came pretty naturally to me."
IR: How fun is it playing with Dani and Paige (Bartsch)?
Sheridan: "It's awesome. I can definitely say that. 6-foot-4 is really easy to pass to and they are great teammates, all of my teammates are. If we do something good, we are all cheering for each other and that makes it really fun."
IR: What are you going to miss most about being a Bruin?
Sheridan: "I'm going to miss the culture. Everyone really supports each other and has your back and I'm really going to miss that."