Last week was a productive one for the Evanston High School boys’ basketball team, posting a 2-1 record, including their first road win of the season.
The week began Tuesday with a home rematch against 3A Mountain View, winners of the first meeting of the two, 46-45; the Red Devils split the season series with a 44-36 win. Evanston hit the road Friday for a game against 4A Northwest Cody. downing the Broncs 55-48; that was followed by a 54-37 loss at Riverton Saturday to round out the weekend.
“It was kind of a crazy week, having that Mountain View game thrown in there on Tuesday,” said EHS head coach Rob Watsabaugh. “That was less prep time for us. But we played really well at home, and on the road — I was proud of the way we came out, the energy we had, especially at Cody.”
The Red Devils (7-8, 2-1 in 4A Southwest Quadrant) have won five of their last six games, and with three games to play in the regular season, Watsabaugh said he likes where his team is at.
“We’re getting closer to where we want to be, and that’s what’s important near the end of the season,” he said. “I think our guys understand that we still have work to do — we’re still in control of our destiny with three games left, and we need to take care of business. It’s good to win five of our last six games, but I don’t think our guys are content quite yet — we’re still hungry, and still looking to work.”
Evanston has a pair of 4A Southwest Quadrant games scheduled for this week, beginning Thursday at Green River (6-8, 1-2 in 4A Southwest); that will be followed with the team’s final home game of the season Saturday against Star Valley (9-6, 3-0 in 4A Southwest), when the team will honor its seniors. Both games — as well as the regular-season finale next weekend in Jackson — have playoff implications.
“Going into Green River, we’re going to see more pressing and zone defense,” Watsabaugh said. “We’ll be working this week on pressing and going against a zone defense, and that will play right into the Star Valley game, as well. We have to execute a little bit better on offense — get better looks for us. If we can execute some of the things we’ve implemented in the last week, we should be in good shape.”
Red Devils 44, MVHS 36
In a rare Tuesday contest, the Red Devils were able to avenge an early-season loss to Mountain View, riding Jagger Mitchell’s hot hand from behind the arc to a 44-36 win.
The senior sharpshooter sank five 3-pointers, en route to a team-high 15 points.
“I found a good rhythm, and it just kept rolling through the game,” Mitchell said. “They zoned us, and pretty much said, ‘You won’t beat us deep,’ but that was the demise of their defense.The rim felt much bigger than normal, no doubt.”
Both teams got off to a slow start, with Mountain View taking an early 6-5 lead after the first quarter. The Red Devils began to find their groove in the second, going on a 15-3 run to lead 20-11 lead at the break.
“I thought our guys were very excited to play that game — we really tried to focus in on some of the mistakes we had the first time around,” Watsabaugh said. “For us, it was good to see a team for the second time, because we’re going to have to do that here in our final three games. To be able to understand what hurt us, and make improvements, that was key.”
The Buffalos battled back in the third to pull within six at the end of the third quarter, 32-26. The Red Devils slammed the door in the fourth, however, outsourcing Mountain View 12-10 to hold on for the win.
Mitchell’s 15 points led the charge for Evanston, followed by Braxton Lind with 8; Carson Wall and Stetson Wiedrich continued to add a spark off the bench, chipping in six and four points, respectively. Burke Thomas finished with five points, and led the team in rebounds and assists, with six in each category.
Big man Wade Bowen finished with four points and five rebounds, and blocked three shots.
“Almost everyone that played against Mountain View made it into the score book, which is good — we were sharing the ball really well,” Watsabaugh said. “Everyone was getting good looks, and played really well together.”
Red Devils 55, Cody 48
Evanston ran its win streak to five games Friday, taking down Cody (3-12, 2-1 in 4A Northwest) on the Broncs’ home floor, 55-48. It was the first road win of the season for the Red Devils, who ran their record to 3-0 against 4A Northwest Quadrant teams.
“Learning to win on the road, especially with adversity, is very hard — it doesn’t matter who your opponent is,” Watsabaugh said. “Being down on the road, in a new gym — I was proud of them for figuring out how to put a complete game together, and steal a win on the road.”
Cody held an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, though the Red Devils battled back in the second to take a 22-20 lead at the break. Burke Thomas had the hot hand for Evanston, scoring 12 points in the first half.
The Red Devils went cold to start the third, allowing Cody to go on an 11-2 run and retake the lead, 31-24. Showing poise that comes with playing together as a team, Evanston calmly chipped away at the lead, and a big 3-pointer at the end of the third by Thomas had the Red Devils back within a point at 39-38.
“It never really felt like there was much panic — I think everyone stayed calm, coming back from being down seven a couple of times,” Watsabaugh said. “It never really felt like we were down seven — we were able to string together a few stops, and convert on the offensive end.”
Evanston retook the lead for good in the fourth, outscoring the Broncs 17-9 to take the win, 55-48.
“The three ball was falling for us, and we were playing really well together.” Watsabaugh said. “We were locked in on defense — we made them take some tough shots, and that put us in position for the win.”
Thomas was lights out from behind the arc, hitting on 5-of-9 3-pointers, en route to a team-high 25 points; he also led the team in assists, with five. Jagger Mitchell finished with nine points — including a pair of 3-pointers — to go along with seven rebounds and four assists, while Braxton Lind and Stetson Wiedrich chipped in eight points apiece.
Red Devils 37
The Red Devils saw their five-game win streak come to an end Saturday, turning in a subdued performance at Riverton (7-6, 3-0 in 4A Northwest), 54-37. It was the first loss to a Northwest Quadrant team this season.
“I didn’t feel like we had the energy Saturday against Riverton,” Watsabaugh said. “I don’t know if our minds were in the right place. We kind of came out flat, and never really recovered. They beat us up inside pretty good with a few of their players, and we weren’t executing the way we know how to. It just didn’t look like us out there, and I think everyone would agree on that.”
Jagger Mitchell paced the Red Devils with eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Braxton Lind finished with seven points, followed by five points each from Carson Wall and Stetson Wiedrich.
Peyton Cornia added four points, while Wade Bowen and Burke Thomas chipped in three apiece.