By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Riverton coach Zach Martin is expecting another great game when his Rams host the St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers tonight. He’s just hoping it’s not a repeat of last year’s battle that ended in a loss after four overtimes.
“It was the first four-overtime game I had ever been a part of,” Martin said. “Hopefully, it’s the last.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have this game circled on the schedule at the beginning of the year.”
Colgan’s 72-65 win over Riverton last year kept the Rams out of the Class 3A state tournament.
This time, a share of the CNC League championship will be on the line. The Frontenac Raiders, Riverton and Colgan each enter tonight with only one league loss. If Frontenac beats Girard, the winner of Colgan and Riverton will be co-champions with the Raiders.
“It means a lot to our kids,” Martin said. “We haven’t won the CNC title in basketball since 1997.”
However, tonight’s matchup has more implications than just the league championship. It also will determine the No. 1 seed in next week’s Class 3A sub-state at Colgan.
“There’s more emphasis on this game than what appears at first glance,” Colgan coach Wayne Cichon said.
Many expected this to be a big game going into the season. Riverton and Colgan were picked first and second in the CNC, respectively, in the preseason coaches poll.
The Rams and Panthers have lived up to the expectations for the most part, but both lost tight games to Frontenac. Riverton lost on a buzzer beater, and Colgan fell in double-overtime this past Tuesday.
Colgan bounced back with a 46-39 win over Galena on Friday to stay in the league race.
“I think we handled the loss very well and very maturely,” Cichon said. “They focused on the next game and put the previous one behind them.”
The Panthers are led by senior post Dyson Dechant, who scored 21 in the win against Galena.
“Colgan is very disciplined offensively and will play very intense defensively,” Martin said. “And Dyson Dechant is one of the premier scorers in the league.”
Cichon said the matchup between Dechant and 6-5 Riverton freshman Grant North will be key. North averages 10.5 points for the Rams and is one of their better rebounders.
“They have four starters back from last year’s team,” Cichon said. “That’s always a great place to start. They got a lot of varsity experience. The fifth spot is the freshman North, who has more than filled his role. I know it’s going to be a difficult game to play, and we have to go to their place.”
Sophomore Landon North leads a balanced Riverton offense with about 15 points per game. Dylan Weaver averages 9.5, and senior guard Greyson Spriggs chips in about 8 per game.
Cichon said Spriggs, a unanimous All-CNC selection last year, does more than score for the Rams.
“I think he’s a player who’s very unselfish and does a lot of things for them,” Cichon said. “He put up spectacular numbers last year. Even though he hasn’t put up big numbers this year, he’s very important to their team. He’s one of the better players in the league.”
Girard to face Frontenac for CNC girls crown
The Girard Trojans will travel to face the Frontenac Raiders tonight for a share of the CNC girls basketball championship. Both teams enter with one league loss and will share the title with Baxter Springs, which already finished its league schedule with one loss.
“This game is important not only for the league title, but it also could be for the No. 1 seed in the sub-state,” Frontenac coach Jeremy Rakes said.