McKenzie Herold makes a layup against Green River during recent conference play. Photo by Anna M. Kunz
EVANSTON — The Evanston Lady Red Devils went into the second weekend of 4A West Conference season tied with two teams, Riverton and Green River, in the basement of the conference standings. With a conference home-opening 43-28 win over Green River, the Lady Red Devils vacated that spot, but the team they’ll face this afternoon, has not.
Riverton, along with Green River, has yet to win in conference play. The Lady Wolverines almost escaped, but after three overtime periods, the visiting Lady Trojans of Kelly Walsh emerged victorious, 51-48, on Saturday.
A good crowd was on hand for the start of the Lady Red Devils’ first meeting with Green River in the conference run, to witness the home team jump out to a 15-3 first quarter lead, in a game Evanston led wire-to-wire. Fans continued to arrive during the first game of the varsity doubleheader, including a strong contingent of Green River faithful.
Meghann Cranford scored on Evanston’s first possession, after winning the opening tap in a sign of things to come, as the Lady Red Devils appeared to work their offense effectively, resulting in high-percentage shooting, scoring nine points above their seasonal average.
McKenzie Herold, Evanston’s statistical leader in most categories, did not start the game, but had the first of two big quarters scoring. The five-foot, nine-inch senior hit two buckets, and was two of two from the line to lead Evanston with six first quarter points, but MacKenzee Barker with four, Cranford and Alli Barker each with two, and Kylie Hurd, with one, also got into the act.
The Lady Wolves were held to just one basket from Brandi Stout, and shot one of four from the free throw line, where the Lady Red Devils converted three of six in the first eight minutes.
The most influential tell-tale statistic may have been the turnover category, as Evanston forced 13 on Green River in that first quarter, another sign of things to come. Evanston had 23 turnovers, which is more than head coach Scott Ehlers would like to see, although most of the final eight occured in the late stages of the game, with reserve players on the floor for the Lady Red Devils. Evanston forced Green River into 33, unofficially.
Both teams would net six in quarter number two, and the Lady Red Devils took a lead of a dozen into the halftime break, up 21-9. Evanston had 11 turnovers, but had forced 10 more on Green River, with 21 at the break.
Herold exploded for 10 of her team’s 14 third quarter points, with four baskets and two free-throws, while she and her teammates held Green River to eight points, with Evanston up by 20, entering the fourth quarter, 35-15.
Herold had scored her game-high 19 in the first three quarters, and also captured a new individual high-point game for the Lady Red Devils. Herold set the mark of 16 points in Evanston’s first game of the season. Hailey O’Neill bettered that output, netting 17 against the Rich Lady Rebels in the Flaming Gorge Classic. Cranford took the top spot, with 18 in a home win over Jackson, until Herold bettered that individual game-high production by one, finishing with seven field goals and shooting five of six from the free-throw line.
The Lady Wolves did outscore the Lady Red Devils 15-8 in the fourth quarter, with most of their offensive output coming from the free-throw line, connecting on 8 of 12. Reserve Myka Ginestar of Green River hit the game’s only three-pointer, and Tessa Williams, the Lady Wolves’ second leading scorer, averaging 8.7 points per game, finally reached the scoring column with a fourth quarter deuce.
Green River was led by five foot five inch senior Sadie Mortensen, their leading scorer and rebounder on the season, with nine points, a bit shy of her 9.7 PPG average. Six-foot junior, Melody Ferrell, and five-foot, five-inch junior, Shayla Strauss, were next with four points each, Ginestar’s three, with contributions of two from Williams, reserve Hope Hunt, and five-foot, nine inch junior, Brandi Stout, who fouled out with 5:49 left to play in regulation. Aubrey Schneider added a point on one of two shooting from the charity stripe, while five-foot, nine-inch senior Whitney Watterson, was 0-2 from the line.
The Lady Wolves’ line was seven field goals, one three-point basket, 11-18 from the free-throw line for 61 percent, to go along with the previously-mentioned 33 turnovers for the game.
The Lady Red Devils’ line consisted of 17 field goals and a 9-of-16 performance from the free-throw line for 56 percent, with the aforementioned 23 turnovers, unofficially.
Herold’s 19 points led all scorers, with point-guard MacKenzee Barker coming uncorked for a career-high 13 points. Barker had two buckets in the first, third and fourth quarters, and hit one of two free-throws in the second. Her baskets were often set up by quick crossover dribbles and aggressive drives to the hole.
Opposing teams will now have to take notice of the Lady Red Devils’ floor general’s scoring ability, in addition to her distribution skills. The other Barker, sophomore Alli, appeared to regain her confidence and moxie, adding six points on two buckets and 2-3 shooting from the stripe.
Cranford finished with four, with a bucket in each of the first two quarters, with Hurd adding one point, going 1-2 from the free-throw line. Uncharacteristically, O’Neill did not score, missing the front-end of two one-and-one attempts. Backup junior, Sarah Frakes, also missed on a one-and-one try in the fourth quarter.
Junior Pearl Marquez, sophomores Lexi Bown, Jessie Fraughton and MaKayla Kallas, along with freshmen Brinae Sanders and Ashlee Thornock, also saw court time for the Lady Red Devils, who are 1-2 in conference play and 4- 12 overall, going into this afternoon’s rare Tuesday conference road swing with the Red Devils to Riverton. Evanston can further elevate their standing in the conference, if they can keep the Lady Wolverines winless in the 4A West.
The Lady Wolverines are a bit of an enigma, for a couple of reasons. Number one, their statistical reporting only covers three of the 17 games
they have played, therefore, they have no representation in the top 10
leader boards of the statistical categories tracked. Number two, they appear as an inconsistent team, playing Rock Springs to a four-point game, not to mention their competitiveness, in matching Kelly Walsh through regulation and two overtime periods, before ultimately falling in triple
With one common opponent with Evanston, in the Rich Lady Rebels, Evanston lost by five in overtime, while Riverton was blown out by 18 points, 29-47, by the Lady Rebels. One other comparative result also favors Evanston, as the Lady Red Devils defeated a ranked 2A team in Thermopolis, while the Lady Bobcats downed the Lady Wolverines in the East versus West Tournament hosted by Riverton in early January.
Game tap-times were moved ahead to accommodate travel restrictions, as requested by Evanston, with Riverton in agreement. The sophomore and junior varsity boys’ games will tip-off at 1:30 and 3:00 p.m. at Riverton Middle School. Action at Riverton High School also begins at 1:30 p.m., with the junior varsity girls, followed by the sophomore girls’
game, scheduled for 3 p.m., and the two varsity squads facing the Lady
Wolverines and Wolverines, with tip-offs slated for 4:30 and 6 p.m.
The travel restriction rule calls for an overnight stay, if a Wyoming team
will not return home by 1 a.m. Herald Sports Editor Mark Madia will have the play-by-play call for both
varsity games on KEVA radio.
Standings from the 4A Division for the East and West Conferences, with conference record, followed by overall mark for the season, are as follows:
4A East Conference
Sheridan 4-0, 15-1
Campbell County 3-1, 12-3
Cheyenne East 2-1, 14-2
Laramie 1-2, 11-4
Cheyenne Central 0-3, 9-7
Cheyenne South 0-3, 4-12
4A West Conference
Natrona County 4-0, 13-2
Kelly Walsh 3-1, 3-13
Rock Springs 2-1, 8-8
Evanston 1-2, 4-12
Green River 0-3, 3-13
Riverton 0-3, 3-14
There were some upsets among the ranked teams this past weekend. Class 4A scores from Friday include:
• #1 Cheyenne East 63 #2 Gillette 40
• #4 Sheridan 57 Cheyenne Central 35
• Evanston 43 Green River 28
• Rock Springs 46 Kelly Walsh 42
Upsets, if considered upsets, with the parody among the upper echelon teams this season, with one of the best fields ever, took place on Saturday, with the top-ranked Lady Thunderbirds of Cheyenne East falling at home to the team ranked number-one for most of the year, in Sheridan, after East upset the preseason favorite, Natrona County, early on. There has beenjockeying in the WyoPreps.com Coaches and
Media poll most all season, and outside of the Fillies in the west, the top-five movement has involved the 4A East Conference teams.
• #4 Sheridan 53 #1 Cheyenne East 45
• #2 Gillette 73 Cheyenne Central 48
• #3 Natrona 58 Rock Springs 28
• #5 Laramie 52 Cheyenne South 34
• Kelly Walsh 51 Riverton 48 – 3OT’s
It was a great weekend for the fourth-ranked Lady Eagles of Lyman, who ran their 3A West Conference record to an unblemished 8-0, and
are 11-3 on the season. The Lady Eagles picked up a conference
victory over visiting Jackson, 42-25, and then up-ended the second-ranked Lady Braves of Star Valley’s unbeaten conference streak, in a barn-burner at the Eagles’ gym, winning 42-41.
The Lady Braves demolished the Mountain View Lady Buffs on Friday, in Mountain View, 59-19. The Lady Buffaloes will host Pinedale and
Lander Valley in 3A West battles this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2. The Lady Eagles will travel to 2A Kemmerer on Thursday, and will host Lander Valley on Friday, Feb. 1.
Standings in the 3A West Conference through Jan. 26:
Lyman 8-0, 11-3
Star Valley 6-1, 10-4
Cody 5-2, 8-7
Powell 3-4, 9-4
Jackson 3-4, 3-12
Lander Valley 2-5, 6-9
Mountain View 1-6, 2-12
Pinedale 1-7, 1-14
The Rich Lady Rebels are winners of 14 in a row, including a 53-31out-of-state road win over the Lady Rangers of Kemmerer on Thursday, Jan. 24 and a Region 21 home win over Manila, 27-21, on Friday, Jan. 25 to complete a home and home sweep. Rich tops the Region 21 standings at 5-0, with Manila second at 4-2. The Lady Rebels are 15-1 and ranked third in Utah’s 1A classification. They will travel to 0-6 Altamont in Region 21 play this Friday, Feb. 1.