Devils split home stand with Cody, Riverton

Don Cogger, Herald Sports Editor
Posted 2/14/24

The Evanston High School boys’ hoops team split a weekend home stand against some tough competition, losing a heartbreaker Friday to Cody, but bouncing back Saturday for a win against Riverton.

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Devils split home stand with Cody, Riverton


The Evanston High School boys’ hoops team split a weekend home stand against some tough competition, losing a heartbreaker Friday to Cody, but bouncing back Saturday for a win against Riverton.

Friday’s game against the Broncs was back-and-forth until the final frame, with the visitors able to hold on for a 44-37 win. Saturday’s contest against Riverton featured a Red Devils squad playing with renewed focus, holding the lead throughout in a 52-41 win.

“Cody’s a tough team — we didn’t play super-great,” said EHS head coach Rob Watsabaugh. “We missed some easy shots — layups we probably should have made — and we struggled with their zone defense. But the way we came back out on Saturday, I thought we played really, really tough — probably as hard as we have all year. We made [Riverton sharpshooter] Parker Paxton earn every one of his points, I thought, and we shared the ball on offense, with good looks, inside and out. We also rebounded incredibly well. It was a good game for us, for sure.”

The Red Devils host their final home game Thursday, welcoming in 4A Southwest Quadrant rival Green River to Red Devils Gymnasium. The team will honor its seniors prior to the game, then take on the Wolves in the hopes of a season sweep.

“Green River can put up some points in a hurry — if [Theran] Archibald gets going, he’s tough to stop, with good length and a tough shot from outside,” Watsabaugh said. “We need to be sound defensively on him, knowing that, at any time, he can start going. The Wilson kid [the Wolves’ Chris Wilson], he can score, as well, and they have some younger guards that attack the rim hard. We gotta step up defensively again, and play like we did Saturday. We do that, we’ll be just fine.”

Cody 44,

Red Devils 37

The Red Devils started the weekend Friday against the Broncs (7-9, 1-2 in 4A NW Quadrant), a team they seem to have better luck against in the playoffs than the regular season. The game was tight throughout, with the Broncs finally creating some separation in the final frame to hold on for the 44-37 win.

“Attacking Cody’s zone was a challenge — their length and physicality across the board was a little tough for us,” Watsabaugh said. “Knowing when we have to attack a zone like that, there are some things we can definitely work on. But I thought we fought all game.”

Clayton Cook and Cohen Morrow paced the Red Devils with 12 points apiece, with Morrow also leading the team in rebounds, with seven. Jordan Mendezfinished with four points, while Ryker Lind and Jay Hill each hit a 3-pointer for their points of the game. Kai Barker and Drew Barker chipped in two points and one point, respectively.

The Red Devils were outrebounded 33-17, and shot just 4-for-10 (40%) from the charity stripe, compared to 10-for-14 (71%) for the Broncs.

“We had the lead, then we went through a bit of a drought,” Watsabaugh said. “Winning tough games like that — I think if we had played the way we did Saturday, we win that game against Cody. We learned quickly that we had to bounce back and play a little tougher — play with better energy — and we came out and did it on Saturday.”

Red Devils 52,

Riverton 41

Perhaps knowing they let one slip away from them the night before, the Red Devils took the court Saturday with a few goals in mind, not the least of which was to shut down the Wolverines’ leading scorer, Parker Paxton, as well as end the weekend on a winning note.

“Before the game, I asked the guys, ‘OK, who wants to step up and have the challenge of guarding Paxton and the DeVries kid?,’” Watsabaugh said. “Multiple guys stepped up to that challenge, and we had a really solid individual and team defensive effort.”

Evanston led 11-7 after a quarter of play, and it’s a lead they never relinquished, holding Paxton to a quiet 21 points, while spreading the ball around in a 52-41 win.

“Offensively, we were sharing the ball really well,” Watsabaugh said. “We were getting inside looks, great outside looks and I thought everyone played their role very well. It was a great team win, for sure.”

Clayton Cook led the Red Devils with a double-double, netting 11 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. Kai Barker, Luke Robinette and Ryker Lind finished with nine points apiece, with Barker narrowly missing a double-double of his own, pulling down 10 rebounds; Robinette hit three 3-pointers for his nine points. Jay Hill added six points, while Cohen Morrow, Drew Barker, Jordan Mendez and Brooks Searle chipped in two points each.

“When we play like we did on Saturday, I really believe we can run with anybody,” Watsabaugh said. “That was the toughest and hardest we played all year, and I know that this team has more in them. We’ll work on doing that in practice this week, and hopefully finish out the year playing that way. That’s where we need to be at the end of conference play, and moving into regionals.”