Feb 29, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterIt's only been three years since Wolverine Gym has hosted a Wyoming high school Class 4-A West regional basketball tournament. But with conference realignments and teams moving up from or down to Class 3-A, it's Riverton's turn again.
The three-day, state-qualifying tournament starts Thursday at 4 p.m. with the Riverton Lady Wolverines playing the opening tournament game game against Evanston. The Wolverine boys follow with their first-round game against Rock Springs at about 5:30 p.m.
For both Riverton teams, Thursday's games are must-win contests with berths to the state tournament hanging in the balance. Only the top two teams from both the girls (Casper Natrona and Rock Springs) and boys (Evanston and Casper Natrona) Class 4-A West have received automatic state bids.
There will be admission charged for the tournament that is sanctioned by the Wyoming High School Activities Association. Adults will be charged $5 per day, or $13 for all three days. Student rates are $4 per day, or $10 for the entire tournament. The regional championship games are scheduled for Saturday with the girls title game at 1 p.m. and the boys championship game to follow at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The Class 4-A East conference plays its regional tournament at Cheyenne East High School, also starting Thursday.
The Class 4-A state tournament is March 8-10 in Casper.
Boys play Rock Springs
On the boys side of the tournament bracket, Riverton (17-6, 6-4 in the West) is the third seed and will play the last-place team in the conference, the Rock Springs Tigers (6-17, 1-9) in their first round game.
The Tigers' only conference win came against Green River. Riverton swept Rock Springs in their two conference games this season.
The other first-round game tips off at 8:30 p.m. when fourth seed Kelly Walsh will play fifth seed Green River.
Riverton hopes to slow Chase Riley of Rock Springs, the state's top scorer averaging 20 points per game. "He's a great player, and he makes their team good. We want him to put the ball on the floor and have to make decisions," Wolverine head coach Dick Quayle said.
Rock Springs also has the state's top rebounder in Zach Legerski, who pulls down 7.7 boards per game.
Riverton's top scorer this season is Xavier Webb, who ranks third in the Class 4-A West with at 13.7 points per game. Webb's status for Thursday's game is not certain. The junior missed practice Monday and Tuesday because of illness. Quayle hopes to see Webb back on the practice floor Wednesday.
"We'll need him to be fresh, especially late in the game," Quayle said.
Should Riverton win, the Wolverines would play the Casper Natrona Mustangs at 5:30 p.m. Friday. A loss for the Wolverines would end their season.
Girls challenge Evanston
The Riverton girls (1-22, 0-10) will try to pull off an upset when they battle Evanston 10-14, 5-5).
"We tried to bring up a few situations in the game where the underdog has achieved. I asked them the question, 'Why not us?,'" Riverton coach Ron Porter said.
The two teams played last week in Wolverine Gym and Riverton jumped out to a 12-4 lead but couldn't hold on to gain its first conference win as the Lady Red Devils completed their sweep of Riverton. If Riverton can generate the upset, the Lady Wolverines would play against Rock Springs at 4 p.m. Friday. Like the boys, should the Lady Wolverines lose, their season is over. Evanston is led in scoring by Shelley Heap who averages 9.1 points per game. Porter said it will be up to Lady Wolverine Sheridan Smith, Riverton's most-improved player, to try and stop Heap.
But Riverton's biggest challenge will be improving the numbers on its own side of the scoreboard. The Lady Wolverines have only managed to score an average of 24.8 points per game.
"If we can put the ball in the basket, we'll have a chance," Porter said. The other girls first-round game has Kelly Walsh playing Green River at 7 p.m. Thursday.
With snow and wind predicted in southwest Wyoming Thursday, there is an outside chance that weather could be come a factor in tournament scheduling.
According to Riverton High School activities director Keith Bauder, teams must be able to get to Riverton on the first day of the tournament. Schedules could be rearranged on the first day, according to Bauder, but if a team couldn't make it to Riverton on the day it is scheduled to play round one, the team would be required to forfeit. "That's never happened, and I don't want to it to happen here first," Bauder said.
Riverton boys vs. conference opponents
Riverton boys (17-6, 6-4)
Riverton 70, Rock Springs 60 (home)
Riverton 58, Rock Springs 38 (away)
Natrona 50, Riverton 48 (home)
Natrona 70, Riverton 58 (away)
Riverton 54, Kelly Walsh 50 (home)
Kelly Walsh 45, Riverton 39 (away)
Riverton 63, Green River 45 (home)
Riverton 66, Green River 34 (away)
Riverton 52, Evanston 46 (home)
Evanston 56, Riverton 54 (away)
Riverton girls vs. conference opponents
Riverton girls (1-22, 0-10)
Rock Springs 53, Riverton 39 (home)
Rock Springs 64, Riverton 26 (away)
Natrona 70, Riverton 35 (home)
Natrona 90, Riverton 15 (away)
Kelly Walsh 49, Riverton 17 (home)
Kelly Walsh 40, Riverton 16 (away)
Green River 36, Riverton 31 (home)
Green River 47, Riverton 29 (away)
Evanston 45, Riverton 28 (home)
Evanston 38, Riverton 15 (away)
All games are in Wolverine Gym at Riverton High School. WHSAA admission rates will apply (see below).
Thursday, March 1
No. 3 Riverton vs. No. 6 Rock Springs, 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 Kelly Walsh vs. No. 5 Green River, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, March 2
Rock Springs/Riverton winner vs. No. 2 Natrona, 5:30pm
Green River/Kelly Walsh winner vs. No. 1 Evanston, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 3
Third place game, 11:30 a.m.
Championship: 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 1
No. 3 Evanston vs. No. 6 Riverton, 4 p.m.
No. 4 Kelly Walsh vs. No. 5 Green River, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 2
Riverton/Evanston winner vs. No. 2 Rock Springs, 4 p.m.
Green River/Kelly Walsh winner vs. No.1 Natrona, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 3
Third place game, 10 a.m.
Championship, 1 p.m.
Adult, $13 all sessions
Students, $10 all sessions
Note: each day is considered one session
4-A conference standings
4-A East (Overall, 4-A East)
Sheridan 18-4, 8-2
Gillette 17-6, 7-3
East 17-6, 6-4
Central 12-11, 5-5
Laramie 9-13, 4-6
South 4-19, 0-10
4-A West (Overall, 4-A West)
Evanston 20-3, 9-1
Natrona 11-12, 7-3
Riverton 17-6, 6-4
Kelly Walsh 8-14, 5-5
Green River 7-14, 2-8
Rock Springs 6-17, 1-9
4-A East: (Overall, 4-A East)
Gillette 17-6, 8-2
Laramie 18-4, 8-2
Sheridan 16-6, 6-4
Central 12-12, 5-5
East 10-13, 3-7
South 3-20, 0-10
4A West: (Overall, 4-A West)
Natrona 21-0, 10-0
Rock Springs 16-7, 8-2
Evanston 10-14, 5-5
Kelly Walsh 7-16, 4-6
Green River 6-15, 3-7
Riverton 1-22, 0-10
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