TAYLORSVILLE — American Fork had an answer for Riverton’s first barrage of 3-pointers during the opening round of Tuesday’s 6A state tournament, but was helpless against the second wave.
Riverton buried 11 3-pointers, including four during the decisive third quarter, as it pulled away with a dominant second half for the 68-52 victory over the defending champion Cavemen.
Riverton averaged just over four 3-pointers per game this season, but with American Fork’s defense sagging into the post to defend Morgan Kane, its guards shot 58 percent from behind the arc with Jaydeene Burgess burying five and Kaitlin Burgess three.
“The big key of the game is they had to sacrifice someone on Morgan all the time, they had to shadow her,” said Riverton coach Ron Ence, who said he was thrilled to see his guards have the confidence to knock down open outside shots.
It could’ve been the result of an extra half hour warmup. American Fork’s commute in snowy conditions to Salt Lake Community College took much longer than expected, and Tuesday’s game started 15 minutes late. American Fork had 10 minutes to warm up and Riverton had over 45 minutes.
Getting extra time to shoot in the new venue seemed to pay off early as American Fork drained five 3-pointers in the first quarter in building a 17-9 lead.
“We got a little better warmup, so we got used to the surroundings. I don’t know if that played a part. I’d like to think it did,” said Ence.
American Fork’s hustle helped it claw back in the second quarter, though, as it used a 17-5 run to take a 26-23 lead late in the quarter.
“They got back into the game because our defense was really struggling. All season we’ve been working on help defense, and they really drug us out so it was really hard for us to recover out at the 3-point line,” said Kane, who led Riverton with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Riverton regained a 27-26 lead by halftime, and quickly put the game out of reach in the third quarter. Meredith Coleman, Jaydeene Burgess and Kaitlin Burgess buried 3-pointers on three straight trips down floor to extend the lead to 46-30 with 2:30 left in the third.
“We kept moving the ball, their guards are really quick and they have really fast hands. We talked about being patient and looking for that great shot that our guards were able to hit,” said Kane.
American Fork simply couldn’t keep up as it shot just 25 percent from the field in the second quarter and finished at 30 percent for the game.
Addison Holmstead led American Fork in the loss with 21 points, while Shepherd finished with 13.