TAYLORSVILLE — Riverton advances to the 5A quarterfinals with a 49-34 win over a persistent Granger squad.
The Silverwolves threatened to run away with the game several times, but were unable to truly do so until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
They came out strong in the first, finishing the quarter with a 13-4 lead as the Lancers were unable to convert their chances into points. Those chances were few and far between thanks to one of the top defenses in Class
"Defense is our strong point," Riverton guard Jamie Smith said. "It's how we get started in our games. … We're always looking for steals and deflections. We brought out our press and they got flustered."
The scrappy defense frustrated the Lancers and created quick transition opportunities for Riverton. The final minutes of the half were marked with Granger turnovers and a scoring surge to give the Silverwolves the advantage, 23-14.
They carried the momentum into the third, but just as they seemed to be widening the gap for good, Granger turned it on. The Lancers matched each bucket in the quarter and cut the deficit to a mere six points with a 3-pointer by Caroline Yorgason. The Lancers outscored the Silverwolves 12-9 in the third.
"I was impressed with how hard and smart they played," said Riverton coach Ron Ence. "They weren't here to just show up. It's a playoff game that they have worked hard to get to and it showed."
Though the Lancers cut the deficit to five (37-32) with 4:46 remaining, they would get no closer. "We had a few good plays down the stretch to stop the rally," Ence said.
Riverton displayed its depth, earning the win as a result of a well-distributed scoring effort. No one scored in double figures but several posted just under 10 points. Chelsey Taylor, Whitney Saunders and Gerika Ballard all had eight, while Jamie Smith led with nine.
"We can all contribute, Smith said. "Our posts are there when we need them and we can take it outside or drive it in. We have a really good balance."
Granger put up a valiant fight in its first trip to the playoffs in nine years. The Lancers displayed a dominating performance in the paint and surprising offensive spurts. Lile Havali led the Lancers with 10 points in the loss.
Riverton will take on the Layton Lancers in the second round.