Wolverines open state hoops ThursdayMar 6, 2013 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer
Riverton's opponent is Cheyenne South, making its first appearance in the state tournament.
The Riverton Wolverines will have to overcome a lot of firsts if they plan to advance past the Cheyenne South Bison in the first round of the Class 4-A state basketball tournament that opens Thursday in Casper.
It's South's first-ever trip to the state tournament.
With their 11 wins, it's the first time in South's three-year history that a team has made double digits in the win column in any sport.
Thursday's 7:30 p.m. game at Casper College will be the first time Riverton has played Cheyenne South in any team sport.
And, it will likely be the first time this year the Wolverines will play in a packed gymnasium.
There's little doubt that the Cheyenne South Bison are looking forward to their first state appearance.
But the Wolverines have couple of big firsts working in their favor too. On the heels of their first-place finish in the Class 4-A west conference this season, the team has a chance to finish with the most wins in school history, surpassing the 1962-63 Wolverines, who went 23-3. Riverton played for the state championship that year, losing to Cheyenne Central. RHS has finished second three times in school history, playing for the state title in 1963, 1964 and 1983.
"We control our own destiny now, and if we play good basketball, we'll be fine," RHS head boys basketball coach Dick Quayle said.
The Wolverines (22-4, 8-2 Class 4-A West) take the No. 2 seed from the West after beating Rock Springs 63-34 but losing to Casper Kelly Walsh 57-48 in the regional championship game. KW has beaten Riverton twice this season.
Last year, Riverton fell to Cheyenne Central 42-37, beat Natrona 63-46, and lost to Cheyenne East 61-48 at the state tournament.
"The loss was hard. We'll have to see how we play. Good teams bounce back from adversity," Quayle said.
In other first-round games, top-ranked and tournament favorite Gillette will open against Rock Springs, Kelly Walsh will play Cheyenne Central, and Laramie will take on Evanston.
Should Riverton win, the Wolverines will advance to the state semifinals against the winner of the Gillette vs. Rock Springs game. The semis are Friday at 9 p.m. at the Casper Events Center. With a loss, the Wolverines would fall to the consolation bracket and play the loser of the Gillette vs. Rock Springs game at 1:30 p.m. Friday, also at the Casper Events Center.
Riverton's leading scorers heading into the state tournament are seniors Xavier Webb at 16.3 points per game, Seth Quayle at 11.4 ppg, Jordan Belville at 9.4 ppg and Kade Salisbury 8.3 ppg.
Quayle, Webb and Salisbury all have been named to the Class 4-A West all-conference first team.
One of the biggest challenges for the Wolverines will be not looking past a Cheyenne South team that beat both Sheridan and Cheyenne Central but lost to Gillette in its regional tournament last weekend.
"It's a huge problem. Our kids have to know that if we lose, that's it," Quayle said of his concern that his team will look past South to a potential semifinal match-up against Gillette.
Riverton expects South, coached by former Lander Valley High School head coach Jim Shaffer, to be "really good at running the floor and good off the dribble. They have been getting better, and better, and that is scary," according to Quayle.
And Quayle recognizes that his team has been too quick to shoot from the perimeter and that has hurt the Wolverines at time this season.
South's Class 4-A East all-conference players to watch are Isaiah Sims and Kyhler Cummings.
"I think we have to attack them inside. If we turn it into a perimeter-type of game, that is to their advantage. Our perimeter shots have to come from going inside first. That's what we have to do," Quayle said.
Notes: RHS coach Dick Quayle hold Wyoming's single-season victory record as a coach, when his Wind River Cougars went 29-1 in 2007-8 season. Their only loss was to eventual state champion Lusk in the Class2-A semifinals... In addition to its three runner-up finishes at state, Riverton has placed third three times at the state tournament... Two of Riverton's three title-game losses were to Cheyenne Central (1963 and 1983), while the other was to Laramie (1964)... The RHS boys and girls both made the title game in 1983, with the girls winning theirs.