EVANSTON — Evanston High School boys’ basketball coach Lex Cornia believes his team wasn’t at its best during its last two games.
But the No. 4 Red Devils are still winning games.
Evanston picked up a 52-40 win against Natrona on Friday before holding off Kelly Walsh for a 68-62 win on Saturday.
“These last two games where we don’t play well and still get a win against good, physical teams, I think that those are great learning experiences for us going forward,” Cornia said. “To play well and execute when things aren’t going your way, that’s what makes a state championship team.”
Braxton Hiatt poured in a game-high 24 points — 10 in the first quarter — to lead the Red Devils on Saturday. Chase Critchfied finished with 13 points, Lance Evans added 11 and Seth Macdonald chipped in with eight.
Evanston is now 12-3 overall and 4-0 in the 4A West. Kelley Walsh dropped to 5-9 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
“(Kelly Walsh) is a heck of a team,” Macdonald said. “They battled hard all the way until the end.”
Evanston jumped out to a 22-7 lead after the first quarter, but the Trojans were able to pull within four points in the fourth quarter.
Kelly Walsh outscored Evanston 17-15 in the second quarter and 22-15 in the fourth. Both teams scored 16 points in the third quarter.
“We’ve got to make better decisions and be more patient with the ball to break their zone and get better shots,” Evanston junior Seth Lloyd said.
Kelly Walsh junior Connor Shopp led three Trojans in double figures with 14 points. Brooks Browning finished with 13 point and Isaiah Wiggins added 11.
“It’s still January,” Cornia said. “We’ve got about six weeks until March and the state tournament. These last two games where we don’t play well and still have to get a win against good, physical team, I think that those are great learning experiences for us going forward.
“This week, we had to play well despite poor shooting and things not going our way. These last two games were just gritty. We had to work through things, which is good for us.”
Evanston 52, Natrona 40
Braxton Hiatt scored 23 points and Chase Critchfield added 16 as Evanston claimed a 52-40 win against Natrona on Friday.
The Red Devils led 14-4 after the first quarter, 24-15 at the half and took a 37-27 advantage entering the final period.
Natrona fell to 2-11 overall and 0-2 in the 4A West.