For three quarters Saturday night at the campus of Western Wyoming Community College, the Evanston High School girls’ basketball team gave Rock Springs all they could handle, overcoming a slow start to give themselves a puncher’s chance by halftime.
But the third quarter has been the bane of the Lady Devils’ existence all season, and that was again the case Saturday. When the dust settled, the Lady Tigers (9-6, 2-1 in 4A Northwest) survived being outscored in the final frame to send Evanston home with a 62-49 loss.
“We were in the game for most of the night, despite giving up transition points we normally don’t give up,” said EHS head coach Jeremy Fessler. “We can fix that — we can fix the communication, we just have to work it out.”
The loss drops the Lady Devils to 5-10 on the season, and with three games this week and conference play resuming soon, Fessler said the team needs to figure out how to score, and fast.
“We shot better from the 3-point line [against Rock Springs], which was a plus,” he said. “And we shot better from the free throw line, we got above 60 percent as a team. But we’re still 28 percent from the 2-point range, and that’s the part we’re struggling with.”
Rock Springs went on a 13-5 run to start the game, and led 15-9 after the first quarter. The Lady Devils battled back in the second after falling behind by 13 at 24-11, led by six points from Zocia Nowakowski and a 3-pointer each from Amber Lowe and Taryn Wagstaff. The Lady Tigers led 31-24 at the break.
But just when it seemed Evanston had gained some much-needed momentum, the Lady Tigers came out firing to start the second, going on a 6-0 run to push their lead back to double digits.
The Lady Devils began to hit shots at the end of the third and into the fourth, but with Rock Springs continuing to hit their shots as well, gained little ground. Evanston outscored the Lady Tigers 16-15 in the fourth, but still lost by 13 at 62-49.
Lowe was perfect from behind the arc for Evanston, going 4-for-4 en route to a team-high 21 points.
“I thought Amber Lowe played very well offensively,;she was attacking and was hitting on a lot of her outside shots,” Fessler said. “She’s up to 36 percent shooting now on the year, which is awesome to see from her.”
Nowakowski netted 16 points to go along with seven rebounds and a steal; Wagstaff finished with four points, four assists and two steals.
Lady Devil post Stacia Barker netted two points and pulled down five rebounds; Fessler said he’d like to see the talented sophomore get more involved offensively.
“Stacia [Barker] did OK defensively, but she only took two shots,” Fessler said.
“She has to shoot more — she needs to be more aggressive offensively to help us out. Amber and Zocia had 37 out of our 49 points, so we need more contributions from some of the other girls.”
The Lady Devils struggled to find an answer for Lady Tiger Brenli Jenkins, the 4A West’s top scorer with 19.1 points per game. Jenkins led all scorers with 25 points against Evanston.
The Lady Devils traveled to Casper Monday for a makeup game against Kelly Walsh, and will host a pair of games this weekend — non-conference 4A opponents Cody (7-7, 0-3 in 4A Northwest) on Friday and Riverton (12-5, 2-1 in 4A Northwest) Saturday. Fessler said the team will continue to work on its communication in practice this week, as well as putting the ball in the hoop. They’ll also fine-tune their 2-3 zone defense.