TAYLORSVILLE — The Riverton Silverwolves won the game and eliminated the Cyprus Pirates in the opening round of the 5A state tournament with a score of 52-36 on Monday evening.
At the very same time, however, it was the Pirates who won while Riverton suffered a devastating loss.
For Cyprus, it was the first girls' state tournament game the school has played in for four years. The last time the Pirates won a playoff game was 2001 when they advanced all the way to the semifinals. They have been to the dance just twice since, the most recent trip a 58-44 loss to Timpview in 2007.
"This is a young team and most of the girls don't have a ton of basketball experience that a lot of the other teams have," said head coach Josh Adams. "Getting here is a big accomplishment in itself."
Lori Parkinson, a junior forward, played a stellar game in the loss, scoring a game-high 18 points and dominating on the inside. Tiana Sandoval added a solid effort on the defensive end, especially considering she was playing with a dislocated shoulder.
"She took a hit to the arm a few games ago, so it's been an ongoing thing," Adams said of the senior's injury. "She has very limited movement and is in severe pain, which shows me just how much heart she has."
Ciara Allen, the senior guard who didn't know if she'd even get to play basketball this season after suffering major injuries in a car accident last summer, scored two points, ran the point, and rarely came off the floor.
"Ciara is the energy and heart of this team; I'm real proud of her," Adams said, adding, "We are still really young. I look for more good things to come from this group."
Riverton grabbed an early lead in the win, holding a 19-5 advantage by the end of the first quarter. The Pirates put together a solid effort on offense and played better defense throughout the final three periods, but the Silverwolves were clearly in control.
"I felt we played really good," said senior forward Kylee Hogue. "We didn't come out strong in the first quarter, but I guess sometimes it takes a slap in the face to wake us up."
Hogue scored eight points and Gerika Ballard, a sophomore forward, led the team with 10 points.
On a sad note for Riverton, guard Jamie Smith went down with an ACL injury just minutes into the game. The sophomore stole the ball, went the length of the court, and, as she turned to attack the basket, her knee buckled and she hit the ground screaming in pain.
"It's a sad thing for any team — that piercing scream sticks with you," Hogue said. "But we have to put her (jersey) number on our calves and keep playing for her."
All the Silverwolves were sporting Smith's No. 10 almost immediately after she left the court. Her number was on their left calves while No. 33 — for Pume Currie, who broke her foot during a region win over Taylorsville during the season — was on their right.
"It helps us remember how we got here," Hogue said of the reasoning for the numbers. "They want to be on the court, too, so we play for them."
The next test for Riverton will be on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. against Alta. It will be the first meeting for the teams this season, but Hogue said her team is ready for the challenge.
"Our theme is, we don't want just a part of the pie, we want the whole pie," she said, "so we'll take it piece by piece until we get it."