Mar 12, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThere is a rule somewhere that cheering is strictly forbidden in the writers area on press row. Those who know me understand that I can overlook that rule from time to time, but in some venues, apparently, anyone who shows favoritism for either team is subject to ejection.
Thank goodness I was in the stands Friday night in the Casper Events Center, because we all went crazy in the final minutes of Riverton's amazing fourth-quarter comeback and win over the team we all like to not like, the Gillette Camels.
I thought then, and former Riverton head basketball coach Mike Harris agreed later, that we all had just seen the greatest game in the history of Riverton basketball.
When you consider the venue, what was at stake, and Riverton's remarkable comeback, Harris said, this was the all-timer.
Let me take it one step further.
This season, we likely got to see the greatest team in the history of RHS basketball.
Driving home, I said, "Wow!" a dozen times when I recalled mental highlights of Friday's semifinal stunner. And it was all of that. I was just a few feet away from Gillette's Cody Kelley, Wyoming's best high school basketball player this year, after Friday's game. He and his teammates were understandably and absolutely devastated.
I recalled Riverton's Jordan Belville's final-minute defensive heroics that gave Riverton stops when it was desperately needed. Belville is not flashy, but he is very good inside on both ends of the court and may have been Riverton's most improved player from last year to now.
Brant Nyberg snapped a picture that has Seth Quayle rising way above Kelly getting ready to swat his shot into oblivion. He did that three times Friday night. Quayle ruled the defensive and offensive post, and his presence on the court, and his off-season work ethic, was key to Riverton's success this year.
In Wyoming high school basketball, few point guards have the confidence, size and talent that Riverton's Kade Salisbury possesses, and, most agree, there is a big upside to his basketball future if he desires to work and carry it to the college level.
Michael Johnston's athletic ability was just fun to watch, and his above-the-rim putback Friday is something I'll remember from a sixth man who improved throughout the season.
There's also guard Coley Nicholls, tears streaming, embracing his parents after Friday's magic, absolutely exhausted after dogging and stopping Kelley in the final quarter. His will was greater than Kelley's in the end.
And anyone who saw Xavier Webb's two 3-point bombs, both well beyond the NBA 3-point line, will never forget the shots that tied and then gave Riverton the lead in the final moments. I recall that Webb had the courage to just take those two risks. All told, he had five treys in the game, but the two late ones were from so far away that there was time for the Events Center to get quiet before erupting, Riverton's assistant coach Stuart Mullins recalled.
And let's talk about Riverton's coaching staff. Led by Dick Quayle, Mullins and Beau Sheets along with Curtis Condie, who didn't need to continue sharing his love and enthusiasm for the game after leaving Central Wyoming College but volunteered his time for this team, are also a coaching staff for the ages.
I have told Dick Quayle before, and let me say it here, we are so lucky to have him in charge of our basketball program. He is still motivated and loves to coach at practice, even though he's been doing it for more than 30 years. He and his coaches are united, committed, on the same page, respect each other, and are an example for all RHS staffs to follow.
Quayle also rightfully credits trainer Ross Anderson for his leadership in Riverton's strength programs and realizes the difference he makes from kids and parents who are willing to understand what he brings to Riverton's sports table.
I'm sorry this season is over.
Thank you, Wolverines, for giving us a winter of basketball that I'll never forget.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
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