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No RHS hoops team has ever prepared more than this one

Nov 6, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

The shape of an American football, I guess, is defined as a prolate spheroid with pointed ends. I'm not really sure what that means. A football is shaped, well, like a football.

But I know the shape of a basketball. It's round. OK, more technically correct, it is a sphere.

Already, as sure as Thanksgiving is just around the corner, high school basketball season begins in earnest this coming Monday when teams from all over Wyoming, including the Class 4-A Riverton Wolverines and Lady Wolverines, will hit the practice floor in preparation for a season that will end in early March.

And The Ranger will be there to bring it all to you. We'll have more pictures, more stories, more in-depth game coverage than you'll find anywhere else about these young men and women, and their sports friends who will be hitting the wrestling mats, swimming and running on the indoor track (that doesn't exist in Fremont County) -- the track, not the runners.

It's already winter sports time, at least as far as high school sports go.

This season, there is a group of young men who know more about the game and have played more basketball than maybe any other team that has ever played basketball for Riverton High School.

Playing together since they were 4 or 5 years old, this year's Wolverine boys basketball players probably have logged more miles, taken more jump shots, practiced more free throws, worked on more defense, played more games and spent more time in the gym collectively than any Riverton team ever.

And they have done it in a place that Dick Quayle, Riverton's boys head coach, correctly calls, "A basketball no-mans land."

There is now a lot that works against Riverton's basketball programs. Put aside that RHS is one of the smallest schools in its class. Well, let's not put that aside. Coaches know that playing in Class 4-A in all sports (except football) and especially in basketball brings with it a higher level of competition. And coaches know, in order to try and compete, that means a high level -- a demanding level -- of preparation.

Riverton's boys team feels that in order to compete, it must be playing in the off-season as much as the teams from Laramie, Gillette, Cheyenne, Evanston and most of the other Class 4-A teams do. In reality, despite their best effort, they don't even come close.

Working against Riverton is our location, almost smack dab in the center of Wyoming, far from Denver, Billings, Rapid City or Salt Lake City. What is different today is, unlike the sport 20 years ago, kids now play, and play and play some more, against good competition. For border towns in Wyoming -- Evanston, Cheyenne, Sheridan and Gillette -- much larger population centers that are closer mean weekend tournaments and summer basketball events are an hour or two away, beginning when the boys are just older than toddlers.

And some teams have more fiscal support, too, and easily can extend their playing areas, even flying to some off-season events.

What doesn't make any sense, and works against Riverton, is that middle school seasons aren't in synch in Wyoming. Riverton can't play teams from Casper, for example, that are closer than Green River or Rock Springs, because seasons for boys and girls basketball are flip-flopped for east and west Wyoming. Riverton's boys will finish their middle school basketball season before New Year's, which is when middle school boys basketball in Casper, Laramie and Cheyenne starts. Somebody needs to work in earnest to change that and get beyond, "Well, that is how we have always done it."

So this group of boy Wolverines has spent, through the years, more butt-time in cars and nights and nights in hotels and more time on the court than any other group that has preceded them. It is tough and expensive. And they all will tell you that it's worth it. They were friends then, and they are friends now. One group, one team. I am looking forward to appreciating all of the hard work these kids have put in when their season begins. Join me this winter.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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