By Josh Hall
Herald Sports Editor
LYMAN – Thursday night’s game between Lyman and Evanston might serve as a reminder that the game isn’t over until the final buzzer sounds.
After trailing by as many as 10 points in the second quarter, and then seven points in the third, the Lady Eagles never gave in.
“I hope my team realizes no matter what the score is, we’re in the ballgame and we have a chance to win,” Lyman girls’ basketball coach Jason Hansen said after the 3A Lady Eagles claimed a 57-54 victory against the 4A Lady Red Devils.
After trailing most of the game, Lyman (9-0; ranked second in Class 3A) came out stronger than ever in the fourth quarter.
Evanston (7-3; ranked second in Class 4A) committed three turnovers in the first 45 seconds of the final period as Lyman went on a 6-0 run to take a 47-38 lead with 6:31 to play.
The Lady Eagles never looked back.
“Lyman out-played us,” Evanston coach Jeremy Fessler said. “Their press hurt us immensely. We panicked. I haven’t seen us panic like that in a long time. Usually, we’re pretty calm with the press.”
The Red Devils didn’t give in that easily. Evanston responded with a 15-7 to pull within one with 52 seconds to play in the fourth
McKinley Bradshaw hit a free throw with 21 seconds to play to make it a 55-53 game. Evanston had a chance to tie it with 15 seconds left, but the Red Devils went 1-of-2 from the line and Bradshaw was able to seal it by sinking two at the charity stripe with 9.2 seconds left.
“We just stayed calm and trusted each other,” Bradshaw said. “We came out in the fourth quarter and just went on a roll and we just kept going.”
Bradshaw, who leads the state with 26 points per game, poured in a game-high 28 points – eight in the fourth quarter – to go along with 14 rebounds and five steals.
“She’s just a great competitor,” Hansen said. “She’s in on every single play. She contributes in scoring, defense and rebounding. She’s just a great player. It’s fun to have somebody like that on your team.”
In her second game back this season after battling a knee injury, McKailey Bradshaw added 20 points – eight in the fourth quarter – and pulled down seven rebounds to help lead the Lady Eagles.
“We really wanted it,” McKailey Bradshaw said. “We worked hard to try and get this win, and our work paid off. We never gave up.”
Lyman trailed 13-6 after the first quarter, and faced a 10-point deficit with 3:17 to play in the second quarter following a three-point play by Evanston senior Emmery Wagstaff.
The Lady Eagles, who switched to a full-court press in the second quarter, responded with a 14-4 run that was capped by a three-point play by McKinley Bradshaw with 4.9 seconds left in the frame to tie the game at 24.
But Wagstaff came through again, this time with a buzzer beater to give the Lady Red Devils’ a two-point lead going into the break.
“I really thought the press hurt Evanston,” Hansen said. “It kind of got them out of rhythm. We were able to get some steals and some easy buckets.”
Evanston extended its lead to 34-27 with 4:45 to play in the third quarter. Lyman finished the period on a 12-4 run to take a 39-38 lead, its first of the game, into the final quarter.
The momentum belonged to the Lady Eagles the rest of the way.
“The biggest factor in this game is (Lyman) was tougher than us,” Fessler said. “They got every rebound they wanted. Every loose ball was theirs. They ripped the ball out of our hands multiple times. They worked harder offensively, and they worked harder defensively. They wanted to win more than we did today.
“We’ve got to get it back together. Bottom line, this is three games in a row we haven’t played well, and it all comes down to toughness. Unless we find a way to get tougher, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Wagstaff led Evanston with 19 points, while Ajahonna Archuleta and Megan Fisher both tallied 12 points.
The Lady Red Devils, who moved from No. 5 to No. 2 in the latest state rankings, will be in action again Friday at Star Valley.
Lyman will play at Big Piney on Friday. The unbeaten Lady Eagles hope to keep making strides this season.
“This win is big for our school,” Hansen said. “We relish in the opportunity to play the big dogs and try to knock them off. We only get a few opportunities a year to play the bigger schools, so you want to try to take advantage of that.”