EVANSTON — The Evanston Red Devils will take their 2-4 record into Afton for the Star Valley Shoot-Out tournament this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27-29, to play four games in three days and close out the calendar year. The Red Devils will square off against the Judge Memorial Bulldogs on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. The Bulldogs are 4-5 on the season and are led by six-foot, one-inch senior guard Mack Tarver, Jr., who averages 18 points per game, the only Bulldog with a double-digit scoring average.
On Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Evanston will face the Sugar-Salem Diggers of Sugar City, Idaho. The Diggers are 6-3 on the season and second in their conference standings behind Teton High School. Sugar-Salem won the Idaho 3A state championship in 2017 and finished 22-8 last season. The Diggers are led by perimeter players Pasen Michaelson, Hadley Miller and Curtis Drake. Gerohm Rihari, Rylan Bean, Crew Clark could also be players to watch.
On Friday, another out-of-state matchup awaits the Red Devils as they tip off against the 8-1 Bear River Bears of Garland, Utah. The Bears’ lone loss was to Northridge, by only four points. They have scored in the mid and upper 80s against much of their competition. The Bears feature four players, all guards, with double-digit scoring averages in Mark Huber (21.5), Ren Fonnesbeck (17.3), Wyatt Roholt (14.1) and Parker Coombs (13.1). They are not a particularly tall team but can obviously light it up and likely rely a good deal on three-point shooting. The tip-off is scheduled for either 1:30 or 3 p.m., with the Lady Red Devils taking the floor in the alternate time slot.
On Saturday, in the final game of the tournament at 4:30 p.m., Evanston will renew their rivalry with the host school as the Red Devils and Star Valley Braves go head-to-head. The Braves are 3-1 on the early season and have strung together three straight following a season-opening loss to Kelly Walsh. The Braves have posted convincing wins over Riverton and Lyman and won a shoot-out with Cheyenne South, 80-75. Junior guard Dean Shaw leads the Braves in scoring at 13.8 points per game and in rebounds and steals, at six and 2.3, respectively. Another guard, Taylor Horsely averages 12.3 ppg, with a pair of six-foot, three-inch frontline players, in RJ Cazier and Chase Merrill, both averaging over seven points per game.
The Red Devils have three players scoring in the double-digits, led by six-foot, four-inch junior Dawson Crofts at 13.2 points per game. Senior guard Brady Hurd averages 11.3 points per outing and owns the team’s season-high with a 22-point effort against the Pirates of Westside, Idaho, when Crofts had 20. Six-foot, six-inch senior Mason Ellingford had a team-high 18 points in the Red Devils’ best outing of the season, heretofore, a 60-40 lighting up of the Bolts of Thunder Basin. Ellingford averages 10.3 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 boards each time out. He also leads the Red Devils and the 4A West Conference in blocks at 2.2 per game. Senior point-guard Garrett Berger leads his team and all of Wyoming Class 4A basketball in steals, averaging four takeaways per game.
The Red Devils should be a more complete team with six-foot, seven-inch Lance Evans rejoining the team. Evans should be able to up his statistical averages of six points and three boards on the season.
Additionally, for the Red Devils, Hurd leads the teams in free-throw shooting percentage at 77-percent (with the team shooting 61 percent from the line) and in assists, with 2.8 dimes per game, though Berger is right behind with 2.7 assists per game, with Lloyd dishing out 2.5 and Crofts with 1.8 per game.
Senior Chris Moeller and Berger are tied with 3.5 rebounds each game, while Crofts’ 4.2 boards are second-best, behind Ellingford’s team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game.