EVANSTON — The Evanston Red Devils jumped out to a 17-4 first-quarter lead against the visiting Jackson Broncs on Saturday, Jan. 26, behind seven opening quarter points by senior Chris Moeller and remained in command to pick up a 48-29 Class 4A Southwest Conference win. The victory places the Red Devils alone in second place with a 2-1 conference mark behind the 3-0 Star Valley Braves. The Green River Wolves dropped to third place in the conference standings with their loss to the Braves and now stand at 1-2. Jackson is 0-3 at the midpoint of conference play.
The Broncs made a run in the second quarter, outpacing the Red Devils 9-6, to make it a 23-13 game at the half, but Evanston began to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring Jackson 16-11, to own a 15-point advantage heading into the final eight minutes of regulation.
Moeller shared game-high honors with Jackson’s Nate Fairbanks, as both seniors led their respective teams with 14 points. Mason Ellingford added a dozen for the Red Devils, followed by Lance Evans with seven and Seth Lloyd with six. Dawson Crofts was held below his team-leading scoring average of almost 12 per contest netting two buckets to end with four points. Sophomore Braxton Lind came off the bench to hit his first three-point shot as a varsity player with a minute and change remaining in the third and also drained a buzzer-beater jump-shot as the third quarter expired to finish with five points.
Just four Broncs reached the scoring column as Gus Armijo added nine and Cooper McMullen and Matt Ellington both contributed three points, in addition to the aforementioned 14 from Fairbanks, who came into the ball game averaging almost 19 per game.
The win elevated the Red Devils’ season record to 6-8, while the Broncs are now 6-7 overall.
The Red Devils will step out of 4A Southwest Conference quadrant play with a pair of home games to begin the month of February with the third-ranked Kelly Walsh Trojans coming to town on Friday, Feb. 1, and another 4A Northwest Conference team in Rock Springs invading Red Devil Gym the following day, on Saturday, Feb. 2.
The Trojans are led by Davion Mcadam, a six-foot, one-inch senior who averages 23.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest, both team highs for Kelly Walsh. The Trojans are 10-3 on the season and 3-0 in the 4A Northwest, with two of their losses to top-ranked Sheridan and the other to second-ranked Cheyenne East. Kelly Walsh defeated Evanston, 69-47, in the Bill Strannigan Invite back on Dec. 8, in Riverton.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are 0-2 in conference play and 3-9, overall.
Red Devil basketball head coach Lex Cornia was pleased overall with his team’s effort to pick up the win over Jackson.
“It was definitely a step forward against a dangerous team. Jackson had scored in the 80s earlier this season against some pretty good teams, so we were concerned coming into the game,” Cornia told the Herald.
Cornia is looking forward to the games with Kelly Walsh and Rock Springs on Feb. 1-2, and had high praise for Kelly Walsh head coach Randy Roden and standout player, Mcadams.
“They’re just a complete basketball team coached by one of the best in coach Roden. He always seems to have his teams steadily improving and playing its best basketball when it counts in March,” Cornia added.
“They’re a team with great shooting ability, they have good size and they play well together,” the coach said. “And Mcadams in one of the best leaders I’ve seen in a long time. He can hurt you even when he’s not scoring with the ways he’s capable of getting his teammates involved,” Cornia avowed.
“We’re progressing and we still have some holes, but I think our guys are learning what they can’t do as we go through the season,” Cornia said of his Red Devil team.
“As a team, I believe they understand the importance of staying healthy and to continue building to be playing our best basketball in March,” the coach affirmed.
“Our home crowds have been fantastic and our team feeds off that. It should be a great atmosphere when both Kelly Walsh and Rock Springs come to our gym this weekend. These will both be big games and we are looking forward to them.”