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What a step forward for Riverton girls basketball

Mar 11, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Last Friday, one day after the Riverton Lady Wolverines gave Evanston an early exit from the Class 4-A West regional basketball tournament, the team went on an adventure.

Head coach Ron Porter took his team on a walk across a bridge on the North Platte River in Casper.

"We are at the mid-point on the bridge," Porter said of his team, referring to the progress of this year's group of girls.

As hard as it is to disagree with one of the most experienced and best known coaches in Wyoming, I respectfully must.

This group of friends, the Riverton Lady Wolverines, have crossed the bridge. Time to find the next one and go after it.

Watching Riverton come from behind in last week's regional tournament twice, and get two big wins, was a treat. The victories were exactly how Porter described them last Saturday: "a team effort."

This is a team that, for the past several years, found it hard to win games at all, much less qualify for extended postseason play. The RHS girls are going to the state tournament this Thursday for the first time since 2003. And, there is just one senior on the squad that has already has booked 13 wins.

Many in this group of Lady Wolverines don't remember the last time Riverton qualified for state. They were still in pre-school or kindergarten.

This team has proved that it doesn't need NCAA Division I prospects to improve and get better.

And, as Porter has pointed out, going out for girls basketball was not, for several years, the cool thing to do. But it took girls who were willing to stick with it and have a desire to improve, and Porter recognizes those efforts.

Times are changing. Girls basketball at Riverton High School is improving and getting "cooler". The results speak for themselves.

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The Lady Wolverines have dedicated their year, and their tournament play, to Roberta Miller who has been battling illness for a lengthy period of time. Miller is the wife of Riverton High School assistant principal and former Lady Wolverine head basketball coach Reggie Miller.

Roberta Miller postponed surgery last week to support the team, according to Porter.

"She is who we look up to because of her courage. The support that Reggie, Roberta and their children have shown impacts us. She is the example of how you approach adversity," Porter said.

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During last week's regional tournament third place game, Porter jokingly asked the officials to relay his messages to his players because he had lost his voice. Kelly Walsh said it would be OK, according to Porter, noting that KW was in the lead at the time. Instead, assistants Derek Watson and Adrian McNamee yelled signals to the players.

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Longtime Wyoming sportscaster Jack Nokes -- he is the public address announcer for the Wyoming Cowboys at War Memorial Stadium -- also recognized Porter's lack of voice as he began his broadcast Saturday for the upcoming Evanston vs. Natrona boys game that was to follow Riverton's girls win over Kelly Walsh.

"I wonder if the officials are happy Porter lost his voice," Nokes quipped to his Casper listening audience, adding that Porter is, "one of a kind."

He sure is. We expressed our view that Porter was the right choice to become the RHS girls head basketball coach three years ago. Time has proven that decision as a good one.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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