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Now and forever

Mar 16, 2017 By Steven R. Peck

Riverton state basketball championship was a long time coming, a great when it arrived

They say winning never gets old. But what about when it becomes routine?

When the Riverton High School boys won the state basketball championship last Saturday in Casper, the feeling was about as far from routine as could be.

We had never won the basketball title before. Through decades of seasons, thousands of games, and thousands more players and fans, the top prize had stayed out of reach.

During years of basketball competition against more successful schools, most of them much bigger than RHS, we were exposed to teams that had won several championships, and a few that had won many. For them, hanging another banner in the gymnasium becomes something of an expectation. Might it become less of a reward in the process?

Perhaps one day our school, and our fans, and our community might start winning enough so that we would come to understand what the routine expectation of championship play feels like. Maybe, maybe not. A few schools and programs have the numbers and positioning within their classifications to become frequent champions and perennial contenders, but most of us rise and fall according to the law of averages which governs most other things. Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down, and most of the time you were somewhere in the middle.

Make no mistake -- we are all for building a dynasty if it can be done. But if you can't, the achievement of this year's Wolverine boys is something important to remember into the future. Enjoy and celebrate it.

No matter how many more championships might come - and we all hope there will be a lot - this one always will be the first. This was the season when the stars aligned, and the combination of talent, experience, camaraderie, coaching, belief and effort combined just about perfectly.

One of the great satisfactions in watching Riverton's championship game before a big crowd in Casper was that the Wolverines won the title playing the way only they can play - striking quickly, scoring in the paint, from the perimeter, making the opposition pay at the free-throw, spreading the scoring a long enough players to fill nearly two full teams, making basketball very difficult for the opposition through intense defense, and often looking down right dazzling when they have the ball.

That's the way you want to win - by being at your best when it counts the most. And that's the way we won.

A full lineup departs through graduation in May, plus three more big contributors. Even son, on paper, things look pretty good for the Wolverine boys again next year in Class 3-A. After that, there is talk that we will be bounced back up into the state's highest classification again, where the Gillettes, the Cheyennes and the Caspers await us week after week.

If that happens, our teams will take the floor, the field, the pool or the mat and give their best. We, their supporters, will be there for them.

But we'll always have March 11, 2017. That's the day we fielded the best team in Wyoming, the banner winners, 28-1, champions at last -- and forever.

Let's never be reluctant to acknowledge how it made us feel. As human beings, memory is among our most marvelous capabilities. Thank goodness this year's Wolverine boys gave us such a happy way to utilize it.

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2017-10-20