Lady Devils split games against Natrona, Rock Springs

Lady Devil junior Melia Wilson scores two of her five points Saturday in a 51-9 win over Rock Springs. It was the team’s second win. (HERALD PHOTO/Don Cogger)

Looking to rebound from a 44-point loss at the hands of Natrona County the night before, the Evanston High School girls’ basketball team took their frustrations out on Rock Springs Saturday afternoon, holding the Lady Tigers to single digits in a 51-9 rout.

“It was a crazy weekend,” said EHS head coach Jeremy Fessler. “Saturday, we flipped the books and turned the page on Rock Springs. We shot better, and we had 17 steals against 14 turnovers. We also controlled the boards, which was huge. We got multiple offensive rebounds, and most of the time, they were one-and-done.”

The win was in stark contrast to the night before, where nothing seemed to go right against the Fillies in a 68-24 loss. Missing a pair of starters due to injury, the Lady Devils nonetheless jumped out to an early lead on the No. 2 team in 4A — though it didn’t last long.

“Friday, we didn’t handle Natrona’s pressure, at all,” Fessler explained. “We got off to a good start — we were up 7-2 in the first — but the next thing we knew, just two timeouts later, we’re down 30-7. We got into a funk, where we were careless with the ball. We had 25 turnovers in the first half — we ended with 29, but that’s mainly because they stopped pressing us.”

Evanston will be on the road this weekend, where they hope to carry the momentum of Saturday’s win into Cody Friday night, and Riverton Saturday afternoon. Cody (10-3, 2-1 in NW Quadrant play) is ranked No. 4 in the state in the latest Wyopreps poll, while Riverton (1-11, 0-3 in NW Quadrant) is in the midst of a rebuilding year, though the Lady Wolverines are always a tough out.

“Cody is ranked in the Top 5, and they’re tough,” Fessler said. “They dribble-drive constantly, so we have to do a better job than we did with Natrona of getting our butts down and keeping girls out of the paint — that’s going to be huge for us. They’re going to pressure us, so we have to handle the pressure. Haven’t seen a lot on Riverton, but they usually have one or two good 3-point shooters — we need to identify who they are quick, and keep them in check.”

Lady Devils 51,

Rock Springs 9

Asked if he’d ever been involved in a game as one-sided as Saturday’s 51-9 whalloping of Rock Springs, Fessler chuckled.

“Yeah, on the other end,” he said. “We’ve been on the losing end of three of those this year. I’ve had teams up 40 points before, but I’ve never held a team to single digits. That was amazing, in itself, the fact that we did that the entire game.”

The Lady Devils came out on fire to start the game, holding Rock Springs scoreless in the first quarter, while going on a 13-0 run. That run continued well into the second frame, as the Lady Tigers’ first points of the game didn’t come until midway through the second quarter. When the dust settled on the first half, Evanston led 30-4. Sophomore post Emily Sawyer led all scorers with 10 points at the break, while fellow post Stacia Barker — back from sitting out the night before due to an injury — had four points. In all, seven Lady Devils shot their way onto the score sheet in the first half. As impressive as the scoring output was, however, Coach Fessler was more impressed with his team’s defense.

“Defensively, we switched up man and zone, kept them confused,” he said. “Our half-court trap caused them some issues, and we went in and out of that — just trying to mess up their tempo. The girls did a very good job.”

Evanston’s pace slowed a bit to start the second half, as they outscored the Lady Tigers 6-1 in the third to make it 36-5. A 15-4 run closed out the scoring in the fourth, as the Lady Devils came away with their second win of the season in impressive fashion, 51-9.

“We were 75% from the free throw line in that game, and that’s something we haven’t been doing particularly well,” Fessler said. “As the season has gone on, we’re starting to make our free throws, so that’s a good thing. Plus, we out-rebounded them [Rock Springs], on both ends of the floor. It was a great team effort, all the way around.”

Sawyer and Mia Barker led the charge for the Lady Devils, netting 14 points apiece in the win; Barker also led the team in steals with eight, while grabbing five rebounds and dishing off three assists, while Sawyer just missed a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds.

“Mia Barker was excellent,” Fessler said. “She was very active on both sides of the floor — grabbing offensive rebounds, attacking the basket, shooting the basketball, which we need her to do.”

Kaitlin Deru, Nayeli Mota and Melia Wilson added five points apiece; Wilson also finished with three assists and two steals. Senior Kambree Brown was busy in other aspects of the game, grabbing four rebounds and three steals, to go along with her two points.

“Our defense works well against certain teams, but with teams that have a little bit of quickness and good guard play, you can’t use it as much,” Fessler said. “We just have to shrink the court against those faster teams, and make it into more of a half-court trap, instead of full court all the way. But I loved our zone, it worked well against Rock Springs. I think that will be something we utilize more, going forward.”

Natrona County 68, Lady Devils 24

As glorious as Saturday’s win against Rock Springs was, Friday’s contest against No. 2 Natrona County was anything but. A promising 7-2 start by Evanston quickly soured, as the Fillies turned the Lady Devils over 25 times in the first half, en route to a 68-24 win.

“We shot a paltry 4-for-30 from the field,” Fessler said. “Whenever you have too many turnovers and you shoot 7.5% from the field, you can expect an outcome like we had. It was a ‘Think about it for an hour, then don’t ever think about it again’ type of game. There was nothing you could really take from that.”

That’s not to say it was all bad — Fessler said his team has been working on a few wrinkles with their half-court trap that, at times, seemed to work well against Natrona’s high-powered offense.

“If we see Natrona again, we’ll have a couple of different wrinkles we can throw at them to give them a different look, try to balance things up a bit,” he said.

Emily Sawyer was the only Lady Devil to score in double figures, netting 10 points. Melia Wilson followed with four, while Mia Barker, Mackenzie Porter and Lily Johnson finished with three points apiece.

“We talked after the Natrona game, about that being a stinker, but you’ll have those throughout the year,” Fessler explained. “We focused on the fact that nothing has changed, as far as our goals — we can still get that No. 2 seed, if we do things correctly. But we needed to beat Rock Springs to have a chance at that No. 2 seed, and that’s what we talked about, mainly. Forget about it, move on, the sun will come up tomorrow, and we need to go get a win against Rock Springs. And that’s what the girls did.”

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