Seven missed point-blank shots in the opening half, including the first four of the game, were the difference in a 67-54 loss by the Riverton Wolverines to the Laramie Plainsman in Class 4-A state tournament play at Natrona County High School Thursday night.
The loss was the third in a row in the opening round of the state tournament for Riverton and was another clear indication of the parity in Class 4-A this season.
A pair of fourth-place seeds upset the regional championship from a week ago with Cody knocking off top-ranked Thunder Basin by 20 points in the final game Thursday.
The East won three of the four opening-round games including a 58-56 win by Campbell County over West champion Star Valley.
Riverton faces Thunder Basin in the consolation bracket at 1:30 pm Friday at the Ford Wyoming Center.
Nerves, pressure, or just an off night, whatever the reason Riverton missed wide-open shots repeatedly in the opening minutes as Laramie quickly took an early 11-point lead.
The Wolverines beat the Plainsman at Wolverine Gym back in December 75-50, but the roles looked to be reversed in the early stages of the game.
Riverton trailed 16-7 late in the opening period when they came to life on a 9-0 run that extended into the opening minutes of the second period, knotting the game at 16.
The rally fizzled, with the Wolverines scoring just four more points in the half and the Plainsmen rolling on a 19-4 run to lead 35-20 at the intermission.
The Wolverines rallied three more times, closing to four points each time, but couldn’t bridge the gap.
Riverton outscored Laramie 51-47 from the floor, but the Plainsman were on the free throw line all night, converting 20 of 27 while the Wolverines were perfect from the stripe, hitting all three of their free throws.
Darrick DeVries and Parker Paxton paced the Wolverines with 19 points each, while Laramie was led by 6-7 sophomore Neil Summers with 22. Karson Busch scored a dozen and Max Alexander 10 for Laramie.
Riverton 14 6 19 15 – 54
Laramie 16 19 11 21 – 67
Riverton – Darrick DeVries 7 (1) 2-2 19, Ty Sheets 1 0-0 2, Dre’Vin Monroe 1 0-0 2, Kade Gabrielson 1 (1) 0-0 5, Parker Paxton 6 (2) 1-1 19, Nathan Hutchison 1 (1) 0-0 5, Hunter Hauck 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 (5) 3-3 54
Laramie – Karson Busch 1 (3) 1-2 12, Levi Brown 3 3-5 9, Brayden McKinney (2) 0-0 6, Max Alexander 2 (2) 0-0 10, Brandon Chavez 1 0-0 2, Jaden Smith 6-6 6, Neil Summers 6 10-16 22. Totals 13 (7) 20-29 67