After last week’s dramatic 51-49 overtime loss to Green River, the Evanston High School boys’ basketball team was poised to get back on track over the weekend, playing host to a pair of 4A Southwest Quadrant rivals in Star Valley and Jackson.
It wasn’t to be. The Red Devils (3-11, 0-4 in conference) struggled to find an answer for a motivated Star Valley (4-9, 2-1) squad Thursday in a 62-25 loss, and though the home team played better Saturday against Jackson, the Broncs (5-6, 1-2) returned to Teton County with a 51-36 win.
“With Star Valley, I don’t think we came close to playing the way that we’ve shown we can this year,” said EHS head coach Rob Watsabaugh. “We struggled on both sides of the basketball – we couldn’t really stop them, and we couldn’t get our offense going. It was a tough night for us. On Saturday, I think we turned things around a little bit – we played quite a bit harder, with a little more energy. I think our effort level was much better than Thursday, which was a positive take away from the weekend.”
The Red Devils travel to Casper Friday to square off against Natrona County (8-7, 2-1), and Watsabaugh said his team will continue to focus on themselves this week in practice.
“We need to work on the things that we know we can correct,” he said. “I told the guys, if we start doing that – shore ourselves up a little bit – things will take care of themselves. Natrona has some good inside play, and they’ve been playing pretty well, as of late. As a team, we have to take care of our defensive principles, and play together offensively. If we can do that, things will fall into place. We’ll put ourselves in a good situation.”
Star Valley 62,
Red Devils 25
Against Star Valley Thursday, the Red Devils started slow, and never quite recovered, managing just four points in the first 14 minutes of play. The Braves held a 31-10 lead at the break, and kept their foot on the gas for much of the second half, cruising to a 62-25 win.
“Defensively, we struggled to stay in front of the basketball and we struggled rebounding,” Watsabaugh said. “It looked like we lacked a lot of fundamental defensive principles throughout the whole game. Offensively, I thought we were very stagnant — we played way too far away from the basket, and we couldn’t really establish an inside presence, which hurt us. We were in neutral on offense the whole night, unable to be aggressive and attack.”
Red Devil senior Noah Conrad led the team with eight points, followed by five points each from Jake Robinette and Kai Barker. Cohen Morrow finished with four points, while Bryton smith rounded out the scoring with three points.
“If there was a positive to be found in the Star Valley game, I think it showed that we have to play together as a team,” Watsabaugh said. “We have to play for each other, we have to believe in ourselves and in each other and in what we’re doing. The takeaway is knowing that we have to come together as a team, in order to be successful moving forward.”
Red Devils 36
It was a different Red Devils team that took the floor Saturday against Jackson, with Evanston battling back from a 18-6 second-quarter deficit to cut the lead to single digits by the break.
“I think our energy against Jackson was much better — we were diving on the floor for loose balls, we were cheering each other on,” Watsabaugh said. “I felt like we were starting to play like we know we’re capable of, high energy and high effort, for most of the night.”
The Red Devils played Jackson tighter in the second half, but were unable to gain much ground, eventually falling 51-36. A tough loss on their home floor, to be sure, but one Watsabaugh said the team can learn from.
“After the game, we talked about how we’re on a bit of a roller coaster at times,” Watsabaugh said. “I told the team that we need to be more consistent – we can show that we can do it, so we know that we can. But we have to find that consistency. We need to do that for 14 days – showing up and competing in practice, practicing the right habits in the right way. If we do that for 14 days, that’s how you develop a habit. That was the message after the game — just be consistent in doing things the right way, and I think the results will come with that.”
Jake Robinette and Kai Barker paced the Red Devils with seven points apiece, followed by six points from Bryton Smith and five points each from Junior Zermeno and Cohen Morrow. Cooper Morrow and Noah Conrad rounded out the scoring with three points each.