Lady Devils go 2-0 at Kemmerer tourney

Lady Devils Kendall Fessler (left) and Lily Johnson battle Kemmerer’s Sydney Neria for a loose ball during Evanston’s 37-27 win over the Lady Rangers last Friday. The Lady Devils went 2-0 at the Fossil Country Classic, with wins over Kemmerer and Cokeville. (HERALD PHOTO/Don Cogger)

Joining the boys’ team in a last-minute search for games last weekend, the Evanston High School girls’ basketball team found a pair of worthy adversaries —- in Kemmerer, of all places —- going 2-0 at the Fossil Country Classic.

The Lady Devils opened the tournament Friday against host Kemmerer, holding off an aggressive Lady Rangers squad for a 37-27 win. Evanston followed that Saturday with a nailbiter against Cokeville, with the the No. 2-ranked team in Class 1A taking the Lady Devils into overtime before falling to their 4A counterparts, 64-56.

“The weekend actually worked out well, given the circumstances,” said EHS head coach Stormy Dolezal. “I thought the Kemmerer game was a good test —- that Nielson girl [Kemmerer’s Olivia Nielson], she’s good, she can play. I think it was good for Stacia [Barker] to have to go against her —- it gave her a little more competition, size-wise. She handled it well, and she had a great game, as far as points and rebounds.”

With the two wins, the Lady Devils improved to 4-4 on the season, and opened 4A Southwest Quadrant play Tuesday at Rock Springs. Evanston will then renew their Uinta County rivalries this weekend, with their home opener Friday against Mountain View, followed by a road game Saturday at Lyman.

Lady Devils 37,

Kemmerer 27

After a crazy couple of days of not knowing where they would end up, the Lady Devils finally found themselves on a court in Kemmerer, taking on the home team in the opening round of the Fossil Country Classic.

After a slow start by both teams, Evanston held a slim 7-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Scoring picked up a bit for both teams in the second quarter, and the Red Devils led by just a point at the break, 14-14. Evanston created a little space between the teams in the third, eventually winning by 10, 37-27.

“It did seem like we couldn’t quite get our motor going [against Kemmerer],” Dolezal said. “It seems like we’ve been a little slow-starting. But that could be just the way the week went —- OK, we’re going to Cheyenne, then we’re not going —- I think that had an effect on them. But overall, they played well enough to win, and that’s good.”

Senior Stacia Barker paced the Lady Devils with a double-double, netting 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Kendall Fessler added six points, followed by four points apiece from Melia Wilson, Emily Sawyer and Abbie Rigby. Mia Barker and Kaitlin Deru finished with three points each, while Lily Johnson rounded out the scoring with a point.

Rigby had a nice game on the boards, as well, pulling down seven; Deru led the team with a pair of assists.

“Against Kemmerer, I thought our rebounding was pretty decent,” Dolezal said. “I think we turned the ball over a couple of times due to silly mistakes, but we can fix all those. Our free throw shooting was better than it has been, so that’s good to see. They seemed a little flat to start, but in the fourth quarter, they got things going. That’s something we need to fix —- we can’t come out flat, regardless of the circumstances.”

Lady Devils 64,

Cokeville 56 OT

Against Cokeville Saturday morning, the Lady Devils survived a scare from the No. 2 team in the state in 1A, shaking off a slow start to capture a win in overtime, 64-56.

“The Cokeville game, those first three-and-a-half quarters were painful,” Dolezal said. “I’m not sure what we were doing, but it wasn’t anything we’ve practiced. But they turned it on in the fourth quarter, and it was awesome to see them come together, and figure it out.”

The win proved costly —- senior guard Kenzie Porter was injured in the contest, and it’s unclear whether she’ll be back this season. The Lady Devils were also without leading scorer Stacia Barker, meaning the rest of the team had to step up.

“Against Cokeville, I was a little disappointed in our defense,” Dolezal said. “We were missing assignments, and just seemed a little lost. Some of that is we didn’t have Stacia —- she’s a leader for us on the floor in so many ways, so that was an adjustment. I think it was a good learning experience for our kids —- we needed them to step up, and they did, especially late in the fourth quarter and overtime.”

The Lady Devils had four players finish in double figures, led by Mia Barker with 14.

“Mia Barker had the game of her life —- from the beginning to the end, she was solid, and she kept us in it,” Dolezal said. “I was really proud of her play throughout the game, especially stepping up with Stacia being gone.”

Melia Wilson and Emily Sawyer netted 11 apiece, while Abbie Rigby finished with 10. Kendall Fessler and Lily Johnson scored nine points and seven points, respectively, while Kaitlin Deru and Brinkley Francom rounded out the scoring with a point apiece.

“Overtime games are always exciting,” Dolezal said. “It was a good thing No. 15 fouled out, that helped the cause. We had a couple of big players foul out for us, and the loss of Kenzie Porter, that really hurt us. Hopefully we get good news about her.”

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