Scoring woes continued for the Evanston High School boys’ basketball team at home over the weekend, as back-to-back losses to 4A West rivals Cody and Riverton extended the Red Devils’ winless streak to eight games.
Evanston (3-13, 0-5 in conference) struggled to find an answer against Cody (5-11, 3-4) Friday in a 74-44 loss, and though the home team started off strong against the No. 4 Wolverines Saturday, Riverton (13-5, 7-0) returned home with a 41-17 win.
“We had some struggles against Cody and their press,” said EHS head coach Rob Watsabaugh. “We weren’t able to execute or get a good look against their defense, while we gave them a lot of easy transition baskets, which is very hard to stop. Saturday, we played a lot better defense against Riverton, and we were in it for the first half. But we struggled to find an offensive rhythm after the break, only scoring three points in the second half, which was tough.”
The Red Devils host Green River (11-5, 6-1) Thursday for the team’s final home game of the season; they’ll also honor their seniors before the game. The last time these two teams played, Evanston took the Wolves to overtime, before falling 51-49.
“We had some silly mistakes in that first game against Green River, that, had they turned the other direction, would have been good for us,” Watsabaugh said. “We gave up some very decisive offensive rebounds to them the first time around, so that will be addressed in practice. We also need to contain Dylan Taylor — he’s a very talented offensive player, so if we can hold him in check a little better, that will be key. If we can perform offensively like we did in the first game, it will be a good game for us.”
Red Devils 44
The Broncs opened Friday’s contest against Evanston on a 16-0 run and never looked back, cruising to a 77-44 win.
Cody used a full-court press for much of the contest, though the Red Devils were able to do some good things on offense.
“We were able to work the ball inside/out, so that was good for us,” Watsabaugh said. “We executed some things offensively that we needed to. We were pretty balanced when we operated in the half-court. It was good to see some improvement there offensively, getting the ball inside, not just hanging around the perimeter.”
Bryton Smith led the charge for the Red Devils, with 14 points, followed by eight points from Noah Conrad. Kai Barker netted six points, while Jake Robinette added five; Jason Bowen, Tanner Newsome and Cohen Morrow rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.
Red Devils 17
Against Riverton Saturday, the Red Devils were able to hang with the No. 4 Wolverines in the first half, thanks to a stifling defense, and were down just 21-14 at the break.
Riverton was able to find an offensive rhythm in the second half, however, while coming up with a stifling defense of their own, holding Evanston to just three second-half points in a 41-17 loss for the Red Devils.
“Riverton is a good team — they did their job, and we weren’t able to get going,” Watsabaugh said. “It was a very slow start to the third, and we could never really recover after that.”
Kai Barker led the team with five points, followed by three points apiece from Bryton Smith and Tanner Newsome. Jake Robinette and Noah Conrad rounded out the scoring with two points each.
“I thought our energy in the first half against Riverton was very good — I thought we bounced back well,” Watsabaugh said. “We were right there with them the whole first half, but then they started putting us in a corner defensively, and we couldn’t get going.”
Watsabaugh pointed at his team’s defense as the highlight of the game for the Red Devils.
“We were throwing some different defenses at them, trying to keep them off balance,” Watsabaugh said. “I thought our guys did a pretty good job switching defenses. I thought we executed a good game plan the first half, but we just struggled offensively in the second.”
Asked what he talked with the team about following the loss, Watsabaugh said he continued to stress the importance of playing for each other.
“I told the guys we need to continue playing together, we need to continue to stay positive,” Watsabaugh said. “We need to believe in our teammates, as well as ourselves – we need to believe in our principles, offensively and defensively. We still have opportunities, so we have to show up to practice and work on those things. We need to keep a level head and stay together.”