Jan 15, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterFor the only time this season, cross-county arch rivals Riverton and Lander will battle on the basketball court Thursday night in Riverton at Wolverine Gym.
Game time for the varsity girls contest is 6 p.m., with the boys at about 7:30 p.m.
Both the Wolverines and Lady Wolverines have shown steady improvement during the early part of their season, and both completed last weekend's Bill Strannigan East vs. West tournament with identical 2-1 records against Class 4-A competition.
Lander a 3-A contender
The Lander boys enter Thursday's contest with a 9-1 overall record, tied with Cody for tops in Class 3-A. Thus far this season, the Tigers' only setback is a 59-52 overtime loss to Douglas. Like Riverton, Lander easily handled Star Valley, the team's only common opponent.
Lander is led in scoring by CooXooEii Black, who averages 18.3 points per game, shoots 63 percent from the field, and is third in Class 3-A blocked shots.
"He's a really good player, as good a big kid as we'll play against this year. He will create problems for people. It's hard not to double him, and that opens things up for others," Riverton head coach Dick Quayle said.
Casey Winger and Jaxon Hedges also average in double digits for the Tigers, scoring 14.9 and 11.8 points per game, respectively.
"They have good size and create some matchup problems," Quayle said.
Riverton (5-8) will counter with its guard trio of Brandon Fullerton, Austin Patterson and Chris Quayle, all who average double figures in scoring with 13.1, 11.3 and 10.6 points per game, respectively.
For Riverton, this is one of two final non-conference games. The Wolverines host Powell on Saturday before setting their sights on Class 4-A West opponent Rock Springs the following week.
"I probably shouldn't say this, but Riverton vs. Lander isn't what it used to be. We are not in the same conference, and we're working to get better to play against the teams we will have to play at state. We probably haven't spent any time in talking about what they do," Quayle said.
Lander is led by Terry Hopkin, a coach Quayle says he "has tremendous respect for."
The Tiger boys are a favorite to compete for the Class 3-A state title, according to Quayle.
RHS girls on a streak
Riverton's Lady Wolverines (4-9) have strung together two wins for the second time this season after completing a season sweep of Laramie and out-gunning Cheyenne South in the Bill Strannigan East vs. West Tournament.
The Lady Wolverines also own a 41-32 win over Star Valley in December, while Lander lost to the Lady Braves 46-26 last weekend. The Tiger girls were playing their first game after the three-week long holiday break.
"Lander (2-6) is a better team in my mind than Star Valley, and this game does mean a lot for our community and our school. t's always a fun night, and I encourage each student body to yell and scream for their team. It's an environment you don't forget," Riverton Lady Wolverine head coach Ron Porter said.
The Lady Tigers are led in scoring by Keesha Rowan and Ashlyn Schamber, who both average about 13 points per game. The Tigers try to use their defense to generate an offensive attack.
"We are not really a perimeter team. We don't shoot a lot from the outside. We try to create a lot in transition. We are not like the old Lander teams from the last 4-5 years," Lady Tiger coach Spike Robinson said.
Riverton is led in scoring by Kiley Ridgway and Savannah Salisbury who average 10.8 and 8.4 points per game.
"Lander shoots well, and we will have to get out and defend. And I am sure we will see zone from them. They are similar to Laramie in some ways," Porter said.
There is no admission charge to Thursday's rivalry games in Wolverine Gym.
"It would be nice if we could play twice. People are going to more tournaments to get more games, plus we lose two games next year" due to scheduling requirements at the state level, Robinson said.
He added that he misses playing in the old Fremont County Shootout, where all county teams played, including Riverton and Lander, before big crowds and exciting environments rarely seen in the regular season.
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