Unable to overcome a slow start, the Evanston High School boys’ basketball team dropped its final non-conference game of the season on its home court, falling to Lyman 35-29.
The loss dropped the Red Devils to 3-9 on the season, with the start of 4A Southwest Quadrant play scheduled to begin Thursday at home against Green River.
“We played a really good defensive game – we held them to 35 points, which is below our team goal,” said EHS head coach Rob Watsabaugh. “They didn’t hit a three on us, which was also very good. I thought we did a good job keeping a couple of their scorers in check. We lacked some offense, which ended up hurting us – we struggled from the free throw line, as well as executing some of our sets. Ultimately, our offense is what hurt us – I thought our defense played great. We have to get some more guys in position, and knowing what we need to do offensively to be successful.”
Lyman (6-4) led 13-9 after the first quarter, and took a 21-12 lead into the locker room at halftime. Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter, with the Red Devils’ defense holding Lyman to just four points, though they could manage only five points of their own. Evanston won the fourth quarter 12-10 but were unable to close the gap, losing 35-29.
Jay Hill paced the Red Devils with nine points, followed by six points each from Drew Barker and Clayton Cook; Barker went 2-for-3 from behind the arc. Jordan Mendez and Bryton Smith finished with three points apiece, while Kai Barker rounded out the scoring with two points.
Smith led the team in rebounds with five, followed by Hill with four and Cook with three. Mendez and Cook had three steals apiece, while Mendez, Hill and Cook each dished out two assists.
After switching up his starting five from game-to-game to start the season, Watsabaugh has settled on a consistent combination the last few games in Hill, Mendez, Cook, Smith and Kai Barker, with Drew Barker and Cohen Morrow the first to come off the bench.
“I like our starting five – we’ll see how the rest of the week in practice goes, if someone steps up and necessitates a change,” Watsabaugh said. “I think we’re going to be somewhat consistent with that group, but that group needs to come out and have a better start – it seems we get gassed quick, and just get off to a slow start to games. We have to come out ready to play as soon as the ball is thrown up in the air. The first quarter is very important for us – it sets the tone for the game. We’ve been focusing on that, trying to get three defensive stops in a row within the first couple of minutes, and then just execute offensively. We’re working through how to have a better start to our game.”
“Our energy doesn’t really drop when we get to our bench – seven to eight guys, maybe nine, I think we’re in a good situation coming off the bench,” Watsabaugh added. “The guys that come in – Drew Barker, Cohen Morrow, then looking at Caleb Welling or Dylan Liechty – the talent level doesn’t drop, it levels off when we go to our bench.”