Known as sloppy starters who clean up well, the Evergreen girls finally rewarded themselves by dominating the first half Jan. 20 against Arvada.
And that fast finish? It was more like a lull.
“We had gone down and we thought, ‘We got this,” Cougars sophomore Jordan Florschuetz said. “But you can’t ever let up. You have to always play hard throughout the whole game.”
The Cougars were probably never in any danger of losing their big lead, but they know it could have been a more enjoyable finish in their 52-37 Class 4A Jefferson County League victory.
The Cougars led by 21 points in the second quarter but were outscored 24-20 in the second half as they struggled with turnovers, free throws, rebounding and shooting.
Haley Stading led the Cougars (9-6, 4-2 Jeffco) with 11 points and Grace Beaudin and Halle Johnson added 10 points apiece. Florschuetz grabbed eight rebounds to go with nine points as the Cougars won their second straight and handed the Reds (4-8, 1-5) their second straight defeat.
“We’re learning that we really need to hustle the whole game and we can’t dwell on the would have, could have, should haves,” Florschuetz said. “We always need to push it our hardest.”
The Cougars waited nearly four minutes before they caught fire. Arvada hit the first basket nearly three minutes in and Evergreen needed 70 more seconds before it would match.
Then the Cougars took off.
The barrage led to a 15-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and stretched to 19-2 before the Red finally scored. The Reds wouldn’t score a basket until there was 1:54 left in the half and the Cougars would take their big lead of 21 on Stading’s steal and layup.
Evergreen led 32-13 at the break but the Reds would not go quietly. Arvada pressured the Cougars on every touch forcing a total of 23 turnovers and preventing the home team from cruising to victory.
After shooting 46 percent (14-of-30) from the floor in the first half, the Cougars cooled to 24 percent (6-of-25) in the second, while finishing just 11-for-22 at the free-throw line.
Baskets by Florschuetz, Tayler Warren and Stading would help Evergreen match its big lead of 21 points in the fourth quarter, but the Reds would cut it to 15 in the final two minutes just to keep it interesting.
“We took it to them. Then they started putting a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t handle the pressure very well,” Cougars coach Ali Johnston said. “It’s hard, because it’s not like one person didn’t step up and handle the pressure. A physical team like that, we aren’t as physical.”
The only setback for the Cougars was the early loss of starting guard Kelsey Bestall, who injured her ankle in the first quarter and did not return.
Evergreen: Bestall 0 0-0 0, Stading 5 1-1 11, Beaudin 2 6-7 10, Helf 2 0-0 4, Wiens 0 0-2 0, Florschuetz 3 3-6 9, Warren 2 1-4 5, Johnson 5 0-2 10, Schulte 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 11-22 52.
3-point goals: Schulte.