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High school basketball: Silverwolves scrap way to victory

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Riverton's D McCleary, down in center, dives after a loose ball as Viewmont's Blake Wilkinson, left, tries to grab it.

Riverton’s D McCleary, down in center, dives after a loose ball as Viewmont’s Blake Wilkinson, left, tries to grab it.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

RIVERTON — Without any stars and limited height, Riverton knows it must fight and claw for every victory this season. So far it's been a pretty successful formula.

The Silverwolves scrapped their way to another victory Tuesday night, beating Viewmont 52-43 to improve to 3-0 this preseason. All three victories have been tight, but the 'Wolves are finding ways to get the job done.

"We're a small, small team. We have to scrap defensively. It's not like we're going to overpower teams. We have to use deception and shoot the ball well," said coach Steve Galley.

Making baskets wasn't a problem Tuesday as Riverton shot 49 percent from the field, 60 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent from the free-throw line. Galley wasn't surprised by the sharp shooting, insisting his players do it all the time in practice too.

D McCleary was the catalyst to the victory with 15 points while Breiden Gamble added 12. In a game that was tight throughout, Riverton pulled away with an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter and then iced the victory with 10 straight free throws in the final three minutes.

"We understand what this is. Our guys know our preseason is brutal, and if we get wins it's great. It builds our confidence," said Galley. "But we also realize the real games begin in January."

In a game that featured six lead changes in the first three quarters, Viewmont enjoyed a slim 35-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game got away from the visitors quickly as Riverton opened with the 8-0 scoring run, aided by 3-pointers from McCleary and Gamble.

Riverton didn't make any special adjustments in the fourth quarter. Galley said the players just started to execute at both ends of the court.

Viewmont wasn't going quietly, though, as it responded with four straight points to cut the deficit to 42-39. Konner Frey had a chance to whittle the lead to one from the free throw line with three minutes remaining, but instead he missed the front end of the one-and-one.

The Vikings didn't score again until 24 seconds remained in the game, and by that point Riverton had locked up the win from the line.

Blake Wilkinson led Viewmont with 16 points, but Galley was particularly pleased with the way his players defended him in the fourth quarter.

"I thought in the fourth quarter we made him shoot a bunch of tough shots, a little further out. We didn't go for his pump fakes," said Galley.

Riverton's tough preseason continues next Tuesday when it faces red-hot, No. 4-ranked Brighton. The Silverwolves' average margin of victory this year is only four points, but they keep winning thanks to the poise of point guard McCleary.

"He has the point guard mentality. Our kids have complete trust in him, and I think that's huge. Very rarely does he get rattled," said Galley.

Viewmont has little time to regroup as it hosts the No. 1-ranked Lone Peak Knights tonight at 7 in Bountiful.

EMAIL: jedward@desnews.com