WEST VALLEY CITY — Minutes after Riverton's stunning double-overtime victory over Viewmont in the 5A boys state tournament's first round Tuesday night, coach Steve Galley was still a bit numb as to how it all actually transpired.
As he put it, "I think the fork was in us multiple times where they could've just gone away."
Amazingly, Riverton never wilted and somehow pulled off the improbable 52-51 victory at the Maverik Center to advance to the 5A quarterfinals.
Down 13 in the first half, Riverton never quit. Down four with 1:40 remaining in regulation, it never quit, and down four with 20 seconds left in overtime, it never quit.
"We just didn't want to lose. We've been through so much adversity," said Riverton's Stefan Holm, who hit countless big shots in finishing with a game-high 23 points.
After missing a potential game-winner at the end of regulation, Holm came up huge in overtime and bailed his team out from three awful minutes with their season on the line. Tied at 40-40 after regulation, Riverton turned it over on three straight possessions in overtime as Viewmont built a 44-40 lead by making 4-of-6 free throws.
Holm gave Riverton life with a 3-pointer at the top of the key to make it 44-43, and then after Viewmont's Tanner Gamble sank two free throws to push the lead back to 46-43 with 7.4 seconds remaining, Holm sank a baseline 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into a second overtime.
They were his fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the game, and they saved the season for the 'Wolves.
"Those are moments as a high school player you'll remember forever. They're just cool things," said Galley.
Riverton finished the game 8-of-18 from 3-point range and finished the game shooting 39 percent from the field.
In the second overtime, it was a big 3-pointer by Brody Bagshaw that gave Viewmont the 49-48 lead with 1:23 remaining.
Tevita Loamanu put Riverton back ahead 50-49 with a rebound putback, and then Nathan Erickson extended the lead to 52-49 with 11 seconds remaining. That's when a nightmare nearly unfolded for Riverton.
After Gamble made 1-of-2 free throws for Viewmont, whittling the lead to 52-50 with 5.3 seconds remaining, Viewmont's Jarom Tye stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled going up for a layup that could've easily rolled in instead of rolling off the front of the rim.
Unfortunately for Viewmont, though, he only made one of the ensuing two free throws, and Riverton was able to run out the final three seconds.
"I don't know that we deserved to win, we obviously made the plays to win. They deserve to win just as much as we did," said Galley. "I feel bad for Jeff (Emery) and Viewmont, they were incredible tonight."
Viewmont did so many things right, including dominating inside with a 26-12 advantage in the paint.
Riverton practiced for Viewmont's zone for five days leading up to the playoffs, but it looked lost for most of the first half on figuring out how to attack it.1 comment on this story
"We knew exactly what they would try to do to us, and I give Jeff and their team all the credit cause they took us out of our comfort zone," said Galley, who said Viewmont completely took away Riverton's inside game as big men Bryce Stone and Richard Worsham combined for just six points.
As well as Viewmont played, the one area it struggled was at the foul line. The Vikings only made 13-of-24 attempts and were a miserable 3-of-10 in the second half, which allowed Riverton to claw back into the game.
D McCleary made Viewmont pay for those misses as he knocked down three 3-pointers with the final four minutes of regulation to help send the game into overtime.