Lady Devils come up short against Lyman, 48-45

Lady Devil Jacey Bardsley (No. 10) drives past a Lyman defender. Evanston gave the Lady Eagles all they could handle last Friday, but ran out of steam late, losing 48-45. (HERALD PHOTO/Don Cogger)

Sawyer with double-double; Brady nets 12 points in loss

The Evanston High School girls’ basketball team closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule last Friday by giving one of the top teams in 3A all it could handle at Red Devil Gymnasium, taking No. 5 Lyman to the wire before running out of steam, 48-45.

“I thought we played well – we gave it a good performance, as far as moving the ball, and trying to be aggressive, not sitting back and letting Lyman dictate their game plan,” said EHS head coach Steven Neal. “Unfortunately, we had too many turnovers and too many missed free throws to come away with a win. We still have mistakes that we need to fix, things we need to get better at, but the girls gave a really good effort against a really good team.”

The Lady Devils (2-10) matched Lyman’s aggressiveness from the jump, not allowing the quicker team to use their speed to their advantage. The Lady Eagles (11-1) led 10-8 after a quarter of play, though Evanston outplayed the visitors in the second quarter, and led 24-22 at the half.

“As far as things that I liked, I liked the ball movement – I liked that we were aggressive, and that we attacked their press, rather than sit back and let ourselves get trapped,” Neal said. “I thought we played well defensively – we didn’t give up a ton of points, and I thought we rebounded the ball well. I thought we shared the ball well, I thought we tried to work the ball inside, as well as outside. I thought all of our girls played really hard – I don’t think there was a lack of effort. There was a lot of energy in the gym, and we really fed off that.”

The Lady Devils’ defense continued to play well in the third quarter, holding Lyman to just six points, while extending their lead to six at 34-28. The Lady Eagles battled back in the fourth, however, outscoring Evanston 20-11 to clip the home team in the final minutes for the win, 48-45.

“Our defense is something we struggled with at the beginning of the year, so we definitely made that a focus,” Neal said. “I think we’ve shown a lot of improvement in that area, especially against Lyman – we did really well with our isolation defense, they weren’t able to drive the ball the way they wanted to; we forced them to take outside shots when they didn’t want to. I thought we did a nice job.”

Senior Emily Sawyer finished with a double-double to lead the Lady Devils, netting 13 points, and grabbing 15 rebounds. Halle Brady followed with 12 points, to go along with five boards and two assists; Kendall Fessler finished with eight points and 12 rebounds.

Brinkley Francom chipped in seven points and dished off a team-high three assists; Jacey Bardsley and Ryhen Debenham had two points each, while Emme Fessler rounded out the scoring with one point, to go along with a team-high three steals.

Free throws were once again the Lady Devils’ Achilles’ heel; the team went 9-for-22 for an anemic 40.9% from the charity stripe, compared to 13-for-21 (61.9%) for Lyman. Evanston finished with 34 turnovers, compared to 17 for the Lady Eagles.

“When we weren’t able to get outside shots, we went inside, and vice-versa – we had girls get to the free throw line pretty well, we just didn’t make our free throws, unfortunately,” Neal said. “We drove the ball really well, and got to the rim. We attacked; we could have shot the ball a little bit better on the outside, and we had too many turnovers to be successful, but we did attack the rim the way I wanted them to.”

The Lady Devils were back in action Thursday, hosting their first 4A Southwest Quadrant game against Green River (2-7).

“I think we’re taking steps in the right direction with every game, and I think we’ll continue to do so,” Neal said. “Against Lyman, we showed a lot of heart and a lot of energy, so hopefully we’ll take that into this week.”

“Green River is a very well-coached team,” Neal added. “They’ve been scoring the ball very well, and they’ve had a similar season to us – they’ve played some close games against some tough teams that just haven’t gone their way. But they’ve hung in those games, and they’re one of the better scoring teams in our quadrant. It will be a good test.”