The Evergreen Cougars had them right where they wanted them. Them would be the D’Evelyn Jaguars, the No. 2 ranked boys basketball team in 4A.
Everything seemed to be lining up in Evergreen’s favor. D’Evelyn may have had a slim one-point lead at halftime, but the Cougars were holding the visitors some 30 points below their scoring average on Jan. 18 at Evergreen High School. Then came the third quarter.
D’Evelyn went on a 21-5 run over the final five-plus minutes of the period to turn a three-point deficit into a 13-point lead, and the Jaguars never looked back en route to a 68-54 victory.
“I thought we did everything we were supposed to do in the first half to give ourselves a chance to stay in it. Then in the third quarter we came out and they go on a 21-5 run. A team like that once they do that it’s tough to come back,” Evergreen head coach Scott Haebe said.
The first half, even though the Cougars struggled from the field and neither team led by more than four points, seemed to favor the host team. Evergreen found ways to pick the ball inside for one-on-one layups. But in the third quarter, D’Evelyn caught fire from long range, hitting four 3-pointers in the quarter, which opened up the paint and the free-throw line for the Jaguars in the fourth.
“This team is always known for their shooting and their fast-break offense. I think our defense went a little bit downhill and they took advantage of it,” said Evergreen senior Andre Lane, who scored a team-high 23 points.
The third quarter has been an Achilles’ heel of sort for Evergreen (8-5, 3-1 4A Jeffco League) lately. The Cougars had been collectively outscored by 12 points in the previous four games in the period. Coincidentally, all of those games were wins. But there would be no bouncing back in this one, and Haebe has no answer for why his team has struggled coming out of the locker room at halftime.
“I don’t know. I swear I don’t know. I wish I did know,” Haebe said. “We lose focus. We turn the ball over. We turn the ball over on the defensive end.”
And D’Evelyn (12-1, 4-0) was all too willing to take advantage of the Cougars’ miscues. Washington State-bound baseball player Luke Stratman led the Jaguars with 26 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Chase Cleary added 13 points — 11 in the second half, Connor Skelton scored 12 and Cody Marvel added 10.
Evergreen last led 28-25 after a Chase Kelly layup with 5 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Cougars never got closer than eight points in the fourth quarter. Even when they did, trailing 50-42 with 5:46 remaining, D’Evelyn went on a 13-3 run to open up an 18-point lead — its largest of the game — with 1:49 left.
“I felt if we kept the score under 30 in the first half we would be in great shape. We were playing the pace we wanted to play,” Haebe said. “They just came out and we had that horrible three or four minutes in the third quarter and it’s game over.”
Kelly finished with 13 points for Evergreen.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.