Jan 17, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterWith the outcome of the annual rivalry game in the balance, junior guard Brandon Fullerton calmly sank two free throws with 7 seconds on the clock to cap a stunning fourth-quarter comeback as the Riverton Wolverines boys basketball team topped the Lander Tigers 50-49 Thursday night at Wolverine Gym.
"We were lucky, but we were a good lucky. I've been doing this for 32 years, and this one didn't disappoint. I think Lander played hard, and I give them a lot of credit," an elated Riverton head coach Dick Quayle said after the game.
Riverton (6-6) now looks forward to its final non-conference game Saturday when the Wolverines host the Powell Panthers. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. at Wolverine Gym.
The Tiger loss, just their second on the season, was heartbreaking.
"In that atmosphere, I thought being a cross-county rivalry, that all things were in play. I knew it would be a great game for us. It was set for a great game," LVHS coach Terry Hopkin said.
Ahead by 10 points when the final quarter started, lack of bench depth may been Lander's Achilles heel. That could be traced to the early moments of Thursday's battle when starting guard Marvin Aragon went to the floor, was hit, and lost two teeth.
Although the courageous Aragon tried to return, the pain was too much and Lander was forced to play without one of its better ball handlers.
"It hurt us. It changed our rotations and how much rest you can give kids. That is very important going down the stretch, and we got a little tired at the end," Hopkin said.
Lander will try to rebound on the road for a conference game at Mountain View Saturday.
Down the stretch
Rivalry games are supposed to be close, and this one was.
It was Riverton's offense that ignited the loud Riverton High School student cheering section who were a big part of the momentum shift Thursday. Fullerton and teammate Chris Quayle, who had 10 on the night, hit back to back 3-point shots 10-seconds apart with 5:00 remaining in the game that had Riverton fans in a frenzy.
But Lander's Hunter Bregar tried to answer. His 3-pointer slowed Riverton's momentum and kept Lander in the lead 43-36 with 3:49 still on the clock. It also looked like Lander would also have late-game luck on its side when Fullerton answered right back with another trey just 20 seconds later, but the bucket was waived off when Riverton was granted a timeout that was whistled a split second before Fullerton's shot.
Fullerton, however, remained red-hot. The Wolverines broke the huddle, and Fullerton drilled another 3-pointer seconds later that pulled Riverton within four at 43-39.
"We have always been a good second-half team. I knew we were capable," Fullerton said.
After Lander's Cooxooei Black, who scored 13, hit two free throws, Quayle's second 3-point bomb inched Riverton closer at 45-42.
Riverton's Myron Oldman gave Fullerton a perfect pass that led to a driving layup, and Quayle's two free throws with 1:47 had Riverton within one at 47-46.
Lander's athletic Casey Winger, who played all but 30 seconds Thursday night and led his team in scoring with 14, drove hard to the hoop and his crafty left-handed layup kept Lander on top by three.
Oldman, who was assigned the job defending Lander's Black, a top scorer in Class 3-A at just under 19 points per game, grabbed a loose ball and scored to put Riverton back within one.
"Myron did a great job. We asked him to defend, and he did," Quayle said.
Two missed timeouts
With possession and the near-capacity crowd erupting, Lander's coach Terry Hopkin was on the court screaming for a timeout, but he wasn't noticed, and Lander turned the ball over.
On the next offensive possession, Lander got what it thought was a huge defensive stop and, with possession, Winger, standing in front of an official, screamed and signaled for a timeout.
For the second time, Lander could not get the clock stopped, and a pass came to Winger that he didn't see. The ball went out of bounds and gave Riverton one final attempt.
"We were trying to get timeouts. When you have as much noise in the gym, they just couldn't hear me. And Winger, I really don't know what the official was doing on that one. He said he didn't see him or hear him. Well he was standing right in front of him at the time. But no excuses. We aren't putting this one on anyone but ourselves. We had five turnovers in the last three minutes," Hopkin said.
On Riverton's last possession, rising high for a rebound, Fullerton was fouled by Winger, and his two clutch free throws gave Riverton the lead and the win.
"I was just trying to think as little as possible," Fullerton, who had a career-high 25 points and led all scorers, said of the two free throws after his team was awarded the Keeper of the Gold Trophy for its win over the Tigers.
Lander had one more chance, and with Winger driving to the bucket, the Tigers were finally granted a timeout out with 3 seconds on the clock. The Tigers set up a play go give Winger a look from the right corner, but it was well-defended by the Wolverines, and Lander could not get a shot off before the buzzer.
Lander 9 16 13 11 -- 49
Riverton 8 11 9 22 -- 50
Lander (49) -- Marvin Aragon 0 0-0 0, Jess Oldman 1 0-0 2, Hunter Bregar 0 3-4 (2) 9, Cooxooei Black 4 5-8 13, Casey Winger 3 5-9 (1) 14, Trey Massey 0 0-0 0, Jayson Simpson 1 0-0 2, Kobey Simpson 2 1-1 5, Jaxon Hedges 1 2-3 4, Silas Cleveland 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 16-25 (3) 49.
Riverton(50) -- Brandon Fullerton 6 4-4 (3) 25, Austin Patterson 2 2-4 6, Chris Quayle 1 2-2 (2) 10, Myron Oldman 2 0-0 4, Caleb Ogg 0 0-0 0, Easton Paxton 0 0-0 0, Triston Oritz 0 0-0 (1) 3, Eion Meyers 0 0-0 0, Jordan Yowell 0 0-0 0, Caleb Richmond 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 8-10 (6) 50.
3-point goals -- Lander (3) - Hunter Breger 2, Trey Massey 1. Riverton (6) -- Brandon Fullerton 3, Chris Quayle 2, Triston Ortiz 1.
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