"Jump Ball!" McKensie Herold battles for a loose ball against the Lady Wolverines in Riverton on Tuesday night, Jan. 29. Herold led EHS with 11 points. Photo by Heather Gifford
RIVERTON — The Evanston Lady Red Devils basketball team evened their conference mark at 2-2, picking up their second consecutive 4A West Conference win with a 32-29 road victory over the Lady Wolverines of Riverton, in a rare Tuesday evening match-up on Jan. 29.
The Lady Wolverines were looking for their first conference victory on the year, having dropped a triple overtime, 48-51, decision to the Lady Trojans of Kelly Walsh their last time out, with a 3-17 record on the season.
Despite starting a little bit slow, in terms of points on the scoreboard, once Evanston did score on a McKensie Herold bucket at the 5:29 mark of the first quarter, the Lady Red Devils spread the scoring around, jumping out to an 11-0 advantage in the game’s first eight minutes. The Lady Devils employed a pressing defense, which forced Riverton turnovers, leading to Evanston baskets.
Riverton outpaced Evanston by six points in the second quarter, 11-5, to make it a five-point separation as the first half came to a close, 16-11, as Evanston led wire to wire. The Lady Wolverines switched to a zone defense in the second quarter.
Through the final three quarters, Riverton outscored Evanston 29-21, with the two teams alternating scoring advantages, quarter by quarter. The Lady Red Devils hit for three more points than the Lady Wolverines in quarter number three, 12-9, behind seven third-quarter points from Herold, to make it a 28-20 ballgame entering the fourth quarter. Riverton netted another nine in the fourth quarter, holding Evanston to four, on two-of-two shooting from the free throw line for sophomore Alli Barker, and a bucket from freshman Brinae Sanders.
Riverton’s Bree Olson scored with 19 seconds left to make it a three-point game, as close as Riverton had been since the game’s beginning, and as close as they would get.
The Lady Wolverines played without Savannah Salisbury in the lineup, out with a migraine headache. Riverton’s Camey Fegler led all scorers with 14. Herold paced Evanston with 11.
The Lady Wolverines are now 0-4 in conference play and travel to Green River to face the 0-3 Lady Wolves on Friday, while 2-2 Evanston also goes on the road in Sweetwater County to tangle with the 2-1 Lady Tigers in Rock Springs, representing the halfway point of the 4A West Conference run for Evanston and Riverton. The Lady Tigers and Lady Wolves will have caught up as they faced off in Green River on Thursday, Jan. 31, the same night 4-0 Natrona County squares off with cross-city rival and 3-1 Lady Trojans of Casper Kelly Walsh in the first of two conference meetings for the Casper schools, one of which is known as the Peach Basket.
Versus Rock Springs
The Lady Tigers will either be 3-1 or 2-2 in conference play when they host Evanston on Friday night, depending on their outcome with archrival Green River the night before. Every team but Cheyenne South in the 4A East has an overall winning record, in contrast to four of the six 4A West teams being “below .500.” The Lady Tigers are right at .500, with eight wins and eight losses for the season. Rock Springs is middle of the pack in team scoring at 47.7 points per game. They’re the second best shooting team in the state overall, behind Sheridan, at 43 percent overall. The Lady Tigers struggle a bit from beyond the arc at just 18 percent, but shoot 46 percent from the field and 54 percent from the line.
Less than one rebound per game separates Rock Springs and Evanston for 11th and 12th in the state, but Evanston only gets outboarded by 1.1 rebounds per game, while Rock Springs’ opponents outboard the Lady Tigers by an average of 4.6 rebounds per outing. The Lady Tigers give up 50.1 points per game, ninth of the 12 4A teams. The Lady Red Devils, on the other hand, are the fourth best defensive team, yielding just 41.5 points per game.
Earlier in the season, Mariah Smith was leading the Lady Tigers in scoring. She is still fourth best in the conference at 12.8 points per game, but returning starter Summer Newman has pushed her scoring average to 13.7, behind only Natrona County’s Kaylee Johnson, who boasts 19.1 per game, second only to Johnson on a conference and statewide basis.
Smith still leads the Lady Tigers in rebounding at 7.1 per game, with teammate Haleigh Legerski pulling down 6.4 rebounds per game.
Savanna Freuler is the assists leader for both the conference and state at 5.3 per game. MacKenzee Barker leads Evanston with 3.6, good for second place in the conference top 10. Newman is in seventh place on the conference top 10 list with 2.4 apg.
Freuler giveth — and she taketh away — leading both the conference and state in steals with 3.5 per game. Legerski and Smith both snag 2.1 steals per game on average.
Smith is the conference’s fourth best shot blocker, at 1.1 per game. She is also the conference leader in field goal percentage, at 68. Teammate Kyla McConnell shoots 48 percent from the field, good for fifth best in the 4A West. Evanston’s Meghann Cranford leads the Lady Red Devils at 42 percent. From downtown, Kylie Hurd and Cranford rank seventh and eighth in the conference top 10, at 31 and 27 percent, respectively.
Hurd’s 70 percent from the line place her fourth among the conference leaders, with Lady Tiger Lexy Newman draining 67 percent to lead Rock Springs and place her sixth.
Although anything can happen in a rivalry game, Rock Springs is favored over Green River, so a three-way tie for second place behind Natrona County could very well be on the line for the Lady Red Devils in the game tipping off at 5:30 p.m.
The Lady Devils will play four of their remaining five conference games at home, with only a trip to Green River in the second half of the conference season.