Grizzlies rebound to knock off Riverside

The Rocky Mountain Grizzlies showed they had plenty of fight in them Friday afternoon as they stayed alive in the 2A West Regional Tournament with a 57-49 win over the Riverside Rebels at Riverton High School.

The game boiled down to a basic fundamental of basketball: making shots. The Grizz knew they needed to match the nearly automatic scoring of Riverside’s huge senior center, Brynnt Wood, and when they scored at their end of the court and converted on Riverside turnovers, they surged. When they didn’t hit, they struggled, but on this afternoon they hit more than they missed.

Rocky Mountain freshman Bill Despain fires up a jumper against Riverside’s Bryce Johnson during Rocky’s 57-49 win Friday in Riverton.

“We talked the night before and felt there were some things we could do differently based on having played them twice,” coach Michael Simmons said. “We moved Kirby around and had him front Wood. He did a really good job of that. We had some miscues with our back-side help and it took most of the first quarter to get that figured out. But once we got that figured out…

“We also increased our ball pressure. They had quite a few entry passes (to Wood) that went out of bounds.”

Rocky forced nine turnovers in the first quarter but missed a number of layups, leading to the odd circumstance midway through the first period that saw the Rebels commit nine turnovers but lead 9-4. Riverside went on to lead after one, 15-8. Wood scored 12 of Riverside’s 15 points in the opening quarter.

The Grizzlies heated up in the second period as senior Derik Romero scored 8 points on a fast-break drive and a pair of three-pointers, one on a kick-out from center Kirby Winland. Clint Getzfreid kept Riverside going with 7 points as Wood did not score a bucket (one free throw). Riverside led at the half, 30-26.

The Grizzlies came out blazing in the third quarter, starting the period with a 14-4 run led by juniors Bryce Ward and Michael Bernhisel, who each drained two three-points. Wood had a pair of jump hooks for Riverside, but the Grizz led the Rebels 40-34 and went on to lead at the quarter break, 44-40.

Riverside hung tough for a while in the fourth, trailing 48-45, but the Grizz went on a 7-0 run for a 55-45 lead with a minute and a half left and went on to the 57-49 win.

“Our kids had good, positive attitudes,” Simmons said. “We had some good communication the night before. It was upbeat and positive. It was fun to see them come out of the locker room with confidence.”

Ward finished with 14 points and four rebounds, Romero 13 points, Bernhisel 10 points and four assists, Bill Despain 8 points and four rebounds and Winland 8 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

The win propelled the Grizz into Saturday morning’s loser-out game against the Lovell Bulldogs.

The box score:

RIVERSIDE (49)

Clint Getzfreid 5 1-3 11, Jordan Herman 2 3-3 8, Mike Miller 0 0-0 0, Bryce Johnson 0 2-3 2, Brynnt Wood 12 4-5 28, Ric DeNiz 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 10-14 49.

ROCKY (57)

Michael Bernhisel 3 2-4 10, Shane Wocicki 0 0-0 0, Joey Jewell 1 0-0 2, Bill Despain 1 6-8 8, Kirby Winland 4 0-1 8, Derik Romero 5 1-2 13, Cannon Simmons 0 2-2 2, Bryce Ward 6 0-0 14. Totals 20 11-17 57.

Riverside 15 15 10 9 – 49

Rocky Mtn. 8 18 18 13 – 57

Three-point field goals – Herman 1; Bernhisel 2, Romero 2, Ward 2. Fouled out – Johnson; Romero. Total fouls – Riverside 16, Rocky 20.

By David Peck

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