Silverwolves win an unexpected region title
Apr 10, 2018 03:42PM
By Greg James
Silverwolves senior Ben Neilson averaged 11.6 points per game. (dsandersonpics.com)
Riverton High School boys basketball team exceeded the expectations of their coach by capturing the school’s first region title.
“We had a blast,” Silverwolves boys basketball head coach Skyler Wilson said. “I thought at the start we did not know what to expect. We did not know how good we would be. We were pretty average in the offseason. I was pretty amazed because I do not think many people expected it.”
The Silverwolves finished this season with an 18-6 overall record. Their 7-1 region record tied them with Copper Hills for a share of the Region 3 title. The school opened in the fall of 1999; this is the team’s first region title.
The region title came down to the last region contest against Copper Hills. In the game, the Silverwolves outscored the Grizzlies by 11 points in the fourth quarter to come away with the victory 71-61. Junior Ryen Edwards scored 24 points, and Richie Saunders had 20 in the victory.
“To win at Copper Hills on the last night, it was pretty special,” Wilson said. “The guys knew that going into the game. I think the top teams in our region were all very competitive. Copper Hills was one of the top teams in the state.”
Saunders was the team’s leading scorer. He averaged 18.7 points per game. The 6-foot-4-inch sophomore scored a season-high 36 points in a 65-51 victory over Murray Jan. 9.
“Richie ended up being our region co-MVP,” Wilson said. “I did not expect that. He struggled the first couple of games but then he really let it loose and turned things around. He is very skilled and can shoot very well. He came on really strong.”
Senior point guard Ben Neilson averaged 11.6 points per game. Wilson said he was a leader on the team.
At 6-foot-3, Edwards was forced to play inside against many of opponents’ bigger players. He averaged 6.7 rebounds per game. He had 20 points and 15 rebounds in the game Feb. 13 against West Jordan. He has signed to play baseball at Dixie State University in St. George.
Riverton entered the 6A state boys basketball tournament as the Region 3 No. 1 seed and matched up against Westlake in the first round. The Silverwolves led at halftime by three, but the Thunder outscored the Silverwolves by 13 in the second half to eliminate them from the tournament.
“We knew that a match-up with any team in Region 4 was going to be tough,” Wilson said. “We struggled with turnovers, and they exploited that. It was just one game, but we really thought that it was a game we could have won.”
The players bonded together after last season’s leading scorer, Brock Anderson, transferred to Bingham in the spring. Wilson said that was hard for his team to understand.
“This team really bonded together,” Wilson said. “They were very good at going after the loose balls, taking charges and rebounding. We were not very big, but we just had some role players. That made for a really fun team, and they played hard. They were a coach’s dream.”