RIVERTON — More so than the past couple years, Davis’ boys basketball team is a talented, athletic bunch that should be very competitive near the top of 5A.
It took the third-ranked Darts awhile to prove it on the opening night of the high school basketball season on Tuesday, but once they did, No. 4 Riverton struggled to keep up.
After falling behind by 10 midway through the second quarter, Davis rallied to tie it by halftime and pulled away for the 72-60 victory with a fantastic second-half effort.
“I think we just came out and we were a little hesitant at first and then we realized it’s just basketball, we’ve been playing it for our whole lives. I think it just came together after a little while,” said Davis big man Braden Koelliker
Koelliker was one of five Darts who scored in double figures, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds. Fellow big man Alex Morrell added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Davis coach Jay Welk would love to see that type of balance from his players all season.
“I think we have guys who can score, and we want to be a team that people have to guard and not just take a guy or two away,” said Welk. “If guys forget about themselves and are more concerned about the other four guys on the floor, we’re going to be fine that way.”
Abel Porter and Jesse Wade each chipped in with 13 points, while Zac Fuller added 11.
Early on, however, it was Riverton that was more composed, with Stephan Holm and Weston Rindlisbacher pacing the ’Wolves to a 23-13 lead with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter.
Following a timeout, Fuller responded with a pair of 3-pointers as the gritty Darts closed the half on a 12-2 run to level the score at 25-25.
“I thought defensively our guys picked it up on the defensive end and put more of a focus there, and we got some stops,” said Welk.
The momentum spilled over into the second half. Davis forced Riverton into 21 turnovers, many in the second half as it shot a blistering 63 percent from the field — which included 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
The streaky Darts opened up a 43-36 lead with 2:49 left in the third quarter, but a Holm follow-up dunk and a Rindlisbacher 3-pointer helped Riverton whittle the lead to 46-45 by the end of the quarter.
The Darts dominated the fourth quarter though, capitalizing on multiple Riverton transition turnovers and scoring on their final 11 possessions of the game.
“We’re a team that’s pretty athletic, and we need to take advantage of our athleticism, and I think we did a little bit more into the second quarter and the rest of the game,” said Welk.
Holm finished with 19 points in the loss for Riverton, with Bryce Stone adding 15.