Mar 4, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterNote: Due to a production error, page C-4 was inadvertently not included in Sunday's Ranger print edition. The story about the Wolverine's second place finish at the 4-A West regional tournament jumped to that page, and the entire article is listed here.
Riverton High School's bid to win its first boys regional basketball championship since 1989 fell just short Saturday in Wolverine Gym as the Evanston Red Devils overpowered Riverton with their inside strength to take a 47-41 win in the title game of the Class 4-A West regional tournament.
Riverton's second place finish comes on the heels of a 60-45 victory over the Casper Natrona Mustangs in Friday's semifinal game. Most of Riverton's basketball team was just 3 or 4 years old when Riverton last beat Natrona in 1998. That win came in regional basketball tournament game in Cody.
With the regional second-place finish, Riverton will make its first appearance in the Class 4-A state tournament since 2004 and will play the third seed from the 4-A East, Cheyenne Central, in this Thursday's first-round game at Casper College at 1:30 p.m.
Evanston advances as the top seed from the West and will play Cheyenne East in round one.
Third-place West seed Kelly Walsh will play Sheridan, and Natrona will play East tournament champion Gillette, also on Thursday.
"I'm so happy and proud of our kids. They have competed hard all season long, and they did again today. I also was so pleased with the support of the community, school and our band. It met a lot to our kids," Wolverine head coach Dick Quayle said.
Wolverines vs. Evanston
After a slow start Saturday, Riverton stormed back with an 18-point second quarter to take a 24-19 halftime lead over the Red Devils, the regular season Class 4-A West champion. Riverton was the only team to beat Evanston during regular-season league play.
Evanston advanced to Saturday's game with a 53-47 win over Kelly Walsh Friday.
As the third quarter began, Riverton started strong, increasing the lead to 30-23 after Kole Stewart's reverse layup and a Stewart-to-Seth-Quayle pass that gave Quayle a bucket.
But the tide of the game started to turn when Evanston's Matt Johnson and Riverton's Coley Nicholls both hustled for a loose ball under Riverton's basket. Johnson appeared to be injured on the play, and the officials called a timeout. During the break, Evanston coach Bubba O'Neill, the 4-A West coach of the year, screamed at the officials on the court in front of Riverton's bench for not calling a foul on the play.
The officials tolerated O'Neill's lengthy tirade while Johnson was being helped off the court, and when play resumed, Red Devil Kade Lym sank a 3-point shot from the top of the arc and was fouled on the play. Lym completed the four-point play, and by the end of the quarter, Evanston trailed by two 32-30.
The Red Devils amped up their intense inside game the rest of the way.
"We will go inside against anyone," O'Neill said.
And inside they went. After sitting out most of the first half in foul trouble, Wolverine Spenser Yowell picked up his fourth foul with 6:14 left to play trying to defend inside. Evanston's Eddington made one of two free throws to tie the game at 33-33. One minute later, Johnson, back from his injury, and Yowell were whistled for a double-technical foul that sent Yowell to the bench for good.
"Why would you 'T' kids for that? They just pushed each other. What went on in the post was 50 times more aggressive than that. That technical was tough on us," Quayle said.
Johnson led all scorers in the game with 19.
Riverton went with an all-junior lineup down the stretch, and Seth Quayle's jumper tied the game at 37-37. Johnson added two more buckets inside for the Red Devils. and Eddington made all four of his free throws down the stretch to preserve the regional title for Evanston.
"We missed some shots that we have been making. It could have gone our way, but we just didn't make the plays to do it. That is a very good team, and they are well coached and disciplined," Quayle said.
Evanston shot 19-23 from the free-throw line, while Riverton was cold from outside, hitting just three of 15 3-point shots.
Riverton 60, Natrona 45
The first tournament semifinal game pitted Riverton against Natrona County High School, the only team in the conference that the Wolverines had not been able to beat this season -- until Friday.
Xavier Webb scored a game-high 25 points, including 12-13 from the free -throw line and 3-6 from beyond the arc to power Riverton to the win.
The Wolverines big challenge was to stop the penetration by Corey Peck from NC. The quick point guard was contained for the most part. He had only one field goal, nine points and four assists, as the Wolverines learned that he is a one-dimensional player who hesitates to shoot from outside.
After leading most of the game early, the Wolverines trailed by as many as four in the third quarter and were down by two at 38-36 when the fourth quarter started.
Donaldo Holquin's 3-point shot, followed by another trey from Webb gave Riverton a two-point lead. Tof Chapin's bucket for Natrona tied the game at 42-42, but Riverton then exploded on an 18-3 run down the stretch to get the big win.
"It was hot in here. We missed some shots, and they did a nice job rotating to stop (Corey) Peck," Natrona head coach Shawn Gillum said.
Riverton 10 10 16 24 -- 60
Natrona 7 11 20 7 -- 45
Riverton (60) -- Tyler Graham 0 0-0 0, Donaldo Holguin 0 (1) 0-0 3, Kole Stewart 0 2-2 2, Xavier Webb 2 (3) 12-23 25, Spenser Yowell 3 0-0 6, Kade Salisbury 2 2-2 6, Gard Evans 0 0-0 0, Coley Nicholls 1 (1) 5-6 10, Jordan Belville 0 2-2 2, Seth Quayle 2 2-4 6. Totals 10 (5) 25-31 60.
Natrona (45) -- Cory Peck 1 7-11 9, Chandler Meeboer 1 (1) 0-0 5, Tof Chapin 4 (1) 2-4 13, Camilo Martinze 1 2-2 4, Nathan Pieper 3 0-0 6, Steven Dach 1 0-2 2, Jake Bratton 0 (1) 3-4 5, Mario Feraud 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 (3) 14-23 45.
Riverton 6 18 8 9 -- 41
Evanston 9 10 11 17-- 47
Riverton (41) -- Tyler Graham 1 0-0 2, Donaldo Holguin 0 0-0 0, Kole Stewart 2 0-0 4, Xavier Webb 0 (2) 3-5 9, Spenser Yowell 2 0-0 4, Kade Salisbury 1 2-2 4, Gard Evans 0 0-0 0, Coley Nicholls 1 (1) 2-2 6, Jordan Belville 2 2-2 6, Seth Quayle 3 1-2 7. Totals 12 (3) 8-11 41.
Evanston (47) -- Will Barker 1 0-0 2, Rocco O'Neill 0 0-0 0, Matt Eddington 3 6-7 12, Tyler Chandler 0 (1) 4-6 7, Matt Johnson 6 7-8 19, Taylor Seimers 0 0-0 0, Isaac Hinckley 0 0-0 0, Takoma Lindsay 0 0-0 0, Kade Lym 1 (1) 2-2 7, Ben Groll 0 0-0 0, Cole Revelli 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 (2) 19-23 47.
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