This season began with what should have been one of the marquee opening showdowns in Wyoming high school basketball. Kelly Walsh and Riverton -- both returning state champions -- were set to open the season against each other.
But, in reality, not much looked like last year's teams except the jerseys. Both teams lost all starters and the first two off the bench from last year, leaving little similarities between Thursday's opener in the Casper Invitational and the game in Riverton last December.
"We have no one that played on that team and a lot of the Riverton dudes didn't play either," Kelly Walsh head coach Randy Roden said. "It's an irrelevant matchup. I know people would like to make it into something, but it's not."
Kelly Walsh asserted a lead early and carried it to the finish. Both offenses struggled to find consistency from the floor early. The Trojans' defense caused enough chaos and panic among the Wolverine offense to create turnovers and keep shooters off-balance.
A deep 3 from Chace Garcia at the halftime buzzer got Riverton within eight, but that was the closest it would get again as Kelly Walsh held on for a 60-50 win. Junior Davion McAdam led all scorers with 23 points. Teammate Ross Padilla added 14 while Riverton was led by junior Trenton Paxton's 16.
"We're so young that we just don't know," Roden said. "Physically, we're worried because we get bullied sometimes and give up turnovers that way.
"I like our size, our depth, our athleticism. I like everything about us except that we're just young and I worry about how physically strong we are."
Sheridan took care of business in the later matchup against Rock Springs at Kelly Walsh High School, defeating the defending state runner-up 72-64.
The Broncs allowed their speedy guards to spread the court while post Blayne Baker worked the inside. Seniors Aaron Sessions, Aaron Woodward and Ross Abraham all helped the Broncs offense work from the outside.
Speed was both an asset and a liability to Rock Springs as the Tigers stretched the defense but also suffered with turnovers. Sophomore Favor Okere and freshman Graedyn Buell helped add an underclassman flavor to a team that has eight seniors on its roster.
The late games at Casper College, Kelly Walsh and Natrona County did not finish by press deadlines. For more information on the boys games between Laramie and Evanston, Kelly Walsh and Jackson, and Natrona County and Star Valley, check Trib.com or Saturday's Star-Tribune.