Feb 20, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine Staff WriterRIVERTON -- It took some time, almost three and a half quarters in fact, but the Riverton Wolverines got back on the winning track Saturday afternoon in Wolverine Gym with an important come from behind 54-50 win over the Kelly Walsh Trojans.
With the win, Riverton (15-6, 4-4 4A West) climbed even with Kelly Walsh (8-13, 5-4 4-A West) in the all important conference loss column but still trails undefeated Evanston and Casper Natrona which has three 4-A West conference losses.
The Wolverines have two conference games remaining. Tuesday, Riverton will honor its seniors when they welcome Green River at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, the Wolverines will try to put a dent in Evanston's record when they host the Red Devils in Wolverine Gym.
Kelly Walsh has just one game remaining, a huge conference game with Casper Natrona this Thursday. A lot can happen, but if the Wolverines can win their remaining two games and the Trojans can beat Natrona for a second time this season, then Riverton and the two Casper teams would all end the conference season with four league losses and, according to Kelly Walsh head coach Randy Roden, Riverton could end up with the second seed and the automatic state tournament berth after dissecting all of the tie breakers.
Conference standings aside, one thing is for sure -- the Wolverines started slow again Saturday, and fell behind early.
It's a trend Riverton coach Dick Quayle does not like.
"I was really disappointed with our lack of intensity early in the game. We have got to find a way to get fired up early," Quayle said.
It took Riverton almost half of the first quarter before Kole Stewart got a rebound and a put back to get the Wolverines on the scoreboard and after the first quarter, the Wolverines trailed 15-8.
The Wolverines closed the gap to three midway through the second quarter on back to back buckets by Spenser Yowell.
But, like the start of the game, the start of the second half was sour for Riverton. Kelly Walsh expanded their lead to 38-26 with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter before Jordan Belville's jumper cut the lead to 10.
Riverton amped up the defensive pressure and pressed Kelly Walsh to two turnovers which gave Coley Nicholls two free throws and Kade Salisbury two open looks, one a 3-pointer, that cut the Trojan lead to five, 40-35 at the end of three.
"We didn't get set up in the right press offense and that hurt us," Roden said.
Two Yowell free throws and a big three point shot by Riverton's leading scorer Xavier Webb, his first points of the game, tied the score at 40-40 with 6:55 remaining.
The teams traded buckets until, with exactly two minutes on the clock, Salisbury created a steal and drove to the hoop but dished to the trailing Belville for a big jumper that put Riverton up by three.
Belville led Riverton in scoring with 11.
Riverton then executed a delay offense and made enough free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.
"For us, it's a confidence builder to play this well. We've had three wins in the last three seasons and we played well on the road against what I feel is one of the top teams in Wyoming," Roden said after the game.
Kelly Walsh was playing without its second leading scorer, the academically gifted Tim Nganga, who averages 8.6 points per game but was visiting the Yale campus this weekend.
Riverton continued is difficulty shooting free throws, hitting just 13 of 27 during the game.
Tuesday, Riverton will honor its six seniors including Gard Evans, Spenser Yowell, Donaldo Holguin, Tyler Graham, Kole Stewart and Jerel Kohler.
"We still have a lot of basketball to play, and I am so excited for our kids," Quayle said.
Kelly Walsh 15 11 14 10-- 50
Riverton 8 13 14 19-- 54
Kelly Walsh (50) - Taz Markovich 0 (1) 0-1 3, Tyler Thornton 0 3-4 3, Jacob Tapp 1 (1) 0-0 5, Turner Hiatt 4 0-0 8, Terry Jackson 2 (2) 5-6 15, John Laible 2 (1) 2-2 9, Talen Markovich 1 5-5 7, Beecher Strube 0
0-0 0. Totals 10 (5) 15-18 50.
Riverton (54) - Tyler Graham 1 0-0 2, Donaldo Holguin 0 0-0 0, Kole Stweart 2 0-0 4, Xavier Webb 1 (1) 3-6 8, Spencer Yowell 3 (1) 1-4 10, Kade Salisbury 2 (1) 2-4 9, Gard Evans 0 0-0 0, Coley Nicholls 2 4-6
8, Jordan Belville 4 3-4 11, Seth Quayle 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 (3) 13-27 54.
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