Mar 10, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterBy Craig Blumenshine
CASPER -- The Riverton Wolverines, owners of the most wins in school history, wished they could have carved just one more.
Playing for the state championship for the first time since 1983 against a familiar Class 4-A West conference foe, Riverton led early but couldn't hold on against the defending state champions, and the Evanston Red Devils downed the Wolverines 54-50 to win the class 4-A high school basketball state championship.
It was a tough loss for Riverton, which struggled to find any offensive rhythm against a pesky Red Devil defense, mostly of the man-to-man variety.
Things looked good early for RHS. Paced by 10 first-half points by Kade Salisbury, Riverton jumped out to an 11-5 lead and led 11-9 after one quarter.
Evanston's offensive leader Saturday was Jemini Leckie with 18 points, but it was Brock Ehlers's 3-point shot midway through the quarter that gave Evanston the lead for good.
Then Leckie went to work on the Wolverine defense, scoring nine in the second quarter.
Salisbury tried to keep Riverton in the game and scored the next nine points for Riverton, including a banked 3-pointer at the buzzer that pulled RHS to within four at 23-19.
Pivotal in the game, with Evanston leading 28-24 at the 5:29 mark in the third quarter, Seth Quayle committed his third personal foul and, 18 seconds later, was whistled for foul number four and was forced to the bench the rest of the quarter.
Riverton pulled to within five with a Michael Johnston free throw, but after that Evanston zipped to its biggest lead of the night at 37-37.
Quayle re-entered the game at the 6:16 mark of the fourth quarter, but it just took nine seconds before Evanston's Taylor Siemers took a charge as Quayle went up for an inside jumper. It was Quayle's fifth foul, and Riverton's hopes were fading.
Salisbury, with two 3-pointers, and Webb, who also converted from beyond the arc, tried to keep it close, but Evanston's 18-27 free-throw shooting was more than good enough to preserve the win.
"It was a devastating loss but at the same time, it was a great season. We tend to get focused in the moment, but we have to be happy with our season and I am happy with our kids. They are tremendous kids," a dejected coach Dick Quayle said after the game.
Riverton reached the championship game thanks to an electrifying come-from-behind victory Friday night over the No. 1 Gillette Camels 69-63. Webb hit for 30 points in that game, helping set up the title shot against a team Riverton had beaten earlier in the season.
The Wolverines end their season with a record of 24-5, tops in school history. RHS graduates its entire starting lineup, plus two other seniors, but also return a solid group of underclassmen for next season.
Evanston 9 14 9 22-- 54
Riverton 11 8 8 23-- 50
Evanston (54) - Kunz, Siemers 1 2-4 4, A Johnson 3 3-5 9, Welling 0 0-0 0, Chandler 0 0-0 0, Lym 0 1-2 (1) 4, Ehlers 0 3-5 (2) 9, Leckie 2 5-6 (3) 18, Bowen 0 0-0 0, M. Johnson 3 4-4 10, Revelli 0 0-0 0, Purcell 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 18-27 (6) 54.
Riverton (50) - Brandon Fullerton 1 2-2 4, Kade Salisbury 5 1-1 (3) 20, Anthony Condie 0 0-0 0, Chris Quayle 0 0-0 0, Xavier Webb 1 -3 (2) 11, Triston Ortiz 0 0-0 0, Michael Johnston 0 1-2 1, Coley Nicholls1 1-2 3, Myron Oldman 0 0-0 0, Jordan Belville 2 3-5 7, Seth Quayle 0 4-4 4, Wyatt Meyer 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 15-19 (5) 50.
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