Jan 31, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterRiverton trailed by 15 points at halftime, but rallied to take the lead with under a minute to play.
The Riverton Wolverines dug themselves a canyon-sized hole in the first half, but fought, scratched and clawed their way all the way back and took a last-minute lead before giving up one final bucket to the Casper Natrona Mustangs in a physical 40-39 Class 4-A West conference basketball loss Thursday night in Wolverine Gym.
Down by as many as 17 points late in the second quarter and by 15 at the half, more defensive pressure and buckets from Chris Quayle, Myron Oldman and Austin Patterson helped Riverton go on an 11-0 run as the third quarter started to get the Wolverines back in Thursday's game.
"We were real tentative in the first half and did not attack very well. They came and got after us, and we didn't have anything to counter. We missed a lot of easy shots inside and some good looks on the perimeter," Riverton head coach Dick Quayle said.
Riverton ended the game shooting 13-43 from the field but hit 10-12 free throws.
Ahead by seven as the fourth quarter started, Natrona upped the lead to 10 at 35-25 with just 4:43 left in the game. Then Riverton turned up the defensive pressure and offensive production even more, especially by guards Quayle and Patterson.
"Riverton did what any team is going to do when they are down. You are going to come out and try to intensify. We started turning the ball over like crazy. They increased the pressure on us and we didn't respond well," Natrona head coach Shawn Gillum said.
In just over a minute, Riverton had carved the Mustangs' lead to one at 37-36 at the 3:12 mark after Patterson's steal and bucket.
The Mustang's leading scorer, big man Connor True, who finished the game with 10 points, made one of two free throws, and Natrona settled into a zone defense with its big men underneath, daring the Wolverines to win the game from the outside.
And they almost did.
After Riverton created a turnover at midcourt, and with a loud Riverton student section cheering, Quayle, who led all scores with 14, drilled a beautiful 3-point shot from the left corner to give Riverton its first lead of the game with 0:53 remaining.
But Natrona whittled the clock and looked inside to True for the game winner. His close-range, right-handed jump hook off the glass rattled around the rim and fell in with 11 seconds on the clock to give the Mustangs the final lead.
"We ran an in-bounds play to get it right into him. We wanted him to isolate inside and see what we could get. When you get one on the road, you feel good about it," Gillum said.
After a Riverton timeout, Quayle drove hard across mid-court, made his defender stumble, and launched a 3-pointer from the top of the key that missed left.
"We were trying to get him a pick and roll with Myron right down the middle, and we thought we could get that going, but it just didn't work that way," Quayle said.
Riverton fouled, but with only 0.3 left. Natrona's Logan Wilson missed both of his free throws, but Jordan Yowell's desperation full-court heave wasn't enough for the Wolverines.
Riverton (7-8, 0-2 Class 4-A West) will look to rebound Saturday in Casper against Kelly Walsh, which also stumbled Thursday in a 60-57 overtime home loss Thursday against Rock Springs. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. The game can be heard live on KVOW 1450 AM.
"I thought the kids came back really well. We put a little more pressure on them, and we should have done that all along," Quayle said.
Casper Natrona 13 13 2 12 -- 40
Riverton 7 4 10 18 -- 39
Natrona (40) -- Parker Browning 2 0-0 4, Sam Turner 0 0-0 0, Logan Wilson 1 0-0 2, Stevan Brown 0 2-2 (1) 5, Connor True 4 2-4 10, Josh Harshman 1 0-2 (1) 5, Rhett Bratton 0 0-0 (2) 6, Layne O'Neal 1 0-0 2, Karim Williams 1 0-0 2, Austin Luers 2 0-0 4, Peter Bergman 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 4-14 (4) 40.
Riverton (39) -- Brandon Fullerton 3 0-0 6, Austin Patterson 1 2-2 (1) 7, Chris Quayle 2 4-4 (2) 14, Myron Oldman 4 0-1 8, Caleb Ogg 0 0-0 0, Triston Ortiz 0 2-2 2, Jordan Yowell 0 2-2 2. Totals 10 10-12 (3) 39.
3-point goals - Natrona (4) Stevan Brown 1, Josh Harshman 1, Rhett O'Neal 2. Riverton (3) Chris Quayle 2, Austin Patterson 1.
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