We’ve played them so many times, but this had a different feel to it. —Riverton coach Steve Galley
SOUTH JORDAN — For several months, the Bingham and Riverton boys basketball teams saw this game coming. And for the majority of 32 minutes, it was still staring at them in the face.
Finally, Brandon Sly took over. Riverton’s senior point guard scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, including the deciding free throw with 3.8 seconds left, to lift the Silverwolves past their neighborhood rival, 70-69, Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.
It was the only time the two schools — located only 3 miles apart — could fit this game into their schedules. It had the excitement of a region contest and went down to the wire.
“We’ve played them so many times, but this had a different feel to it,” said Riverton coach Steve Galley.
“This is a hard one to lose, but we’ll have to build on it and move forward,” said new Bingham coach Jake Schroeder, who was a student at Bingham when the schools split in 1999.
Bingham led for much of the game. The Miners even built the margin to 12 points — 57-45 — going into the final period. At that point, though, Riverton put the ball in Sly’s hands, and the skinny 135-pounder frequently took the ball to the hoop or fed his teammates for baskets.
“We’re really comfortable with the ball in his hands,” said Galley. “We’re even more comfortable when he’s at the free-throw line.”
Sly scored seven of Riverton’s final eight points — and made 5 of 6 charity shots in the final three minutes. He had a big smile on his face when he came out of the locker room after the game.
Riverton’s big break came with 16 seconds left. With the game tied at 69-69, Bingham stalled for about 30 seconds and appeared to look for a final shot. However, Ryan Turner found a gap in the defense and moved toward the basket. He saw Jesse Goyzueta moving on the opposite side of the key, but his pass was too high and landed out of bounds.
Riverton took advantage of the turnover and got the ball to Sly. Like he had done so many times before, he moved to his left toward the basket and was fouled on the shot. With the crowd screaming, his first shot rimmed out. But after a timeout, he made the second shot to lift the 'Wolves to the win.
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.