(Casper, WY) – As the top seed out of the West 4-A Regional, the Riverton Wolverines represented the last, best hope for a win against a talented Class 4-A East. The Wolverines were the last domino to fall in a 57-32 loss to fourth-seeded Sheridan in the final Thursday game played at Casper College.
Earlier in the tournament top-seeded East champion, Thunder Basin blew out Natrona County 66-28, and East third seed Kelly Walsh handled West runner-up Star Valley 49-39. Cheyenne East rolled over Rock Springs easily 69-46 in the other opening round game.
That means an East 4-A sweep while the Class 4-A west moves into the consolation bracket on Friday.
Thursday the Wolverines fell behind early 10-0 to the Broncs. Only a pair of pull up jump shots, the first from 10 feet and the second 12 by sophomore guard Parker Paxton prevented a shutout from the floor.
Much of Riverton’s offensive frustration came from seven turnovers in the opening period. The Broncs forced steals or bad passes before the Wolverines were able to set their half court offense on many possessions.
Trailing 18-5 at the end of the opening period, the Wolverines clawed back into contention in the second frame outscoring the Broncs 14-9 to trail by only eight points at the half, 27-19.
Riverton has been an opportunistic long range shooting team this season, but the rims at Swede Erickson Gym were unforgiving late Thursday.
As a squad, the Wolverines missed all nine 3-point attempts they took. Paxton and Tanner Johnson have been among the Class 4-A leaders in 3-point percentages this season, but both were 0-4 from beyond the arc.
Riverton entered the tournament as the best defensive team in the state, but Sheridan’s balance was too much to handle, nine different Broncs scored in the game paced by 13 from Sean Sanders and 11 by Cael Hamrick. Sheridan was an impressive 12 for 13 from the free throw line.
Turnovers were a major factor in the game with Riverton committing an uncharacteristic 22.
Paxton paced Riverton with 11 points, Jason Vincent tallied nine, and Lucas Engle eight.
Vincent had the angle on his defender in the opening period, driving to the basket repeatedly before the Sheridan help side man-to-man defense collapsed on him. He missed his first four shots against the Bronc double team on the low block but rallied later in the contest hitting three of four from the floor with three more free throws for his nine points.
Riverton faces Rock Springs at the Ford Wyoming Center at 1:30 p.m. Friday with the winner playing for the consolation championship on Saturday at noon.
Riverton 5 14 11 2 – 32
Sheridan 18 9 21 9 – 57
Riverton – Jason Vincent 3 3-6 9, Kade Gabrielsen 2-2 2, Parker Paxton 5 1-1 11, Tanner Johnson 1 0-0 2, Lucas Engle 2 4-7 8. Totals 11 10-16 32
Sheridan – Cael Hamrick 1 2-2 4, Alex Sanders 3 5-5 11, Jake Woodrow 1 0-0 2, Kaden Bateson 2 (1) 1-1 8, Garrett Spielman 1 (1) 0-0 5, Reed Rabon 2 0-0 4, Cole Leach 1 2-2 4, Frank Sinclair 3 0-0 6, Sean Sanders 1 (1) 2-2 13. Totals 15 (5) 12-13 57