CONIFER — When it comes to rivalry games, such as one like Evergreen and Conifer, it’s tough for one to stay within themselves. Emotions are high, the adrenaline rush is maddening. But Evergreen’s boys basketball team, clearly the better team, had to find a way to do so.
“We were looking forward to it for the whole week. We had to keep our emotions and nerves down. We did a pretty good job of that and ended up getting a good lead,” Evergreen senior Andre Lane said.
Good lead is an understatement. The Cougars ran off a 17-2 run midway through the first quarter and never looked back in throttling an undermanned Conifer squad 71-38 on Jan. 25 at Conifer High School.
Evergreen’s seventh straight win in the series was over almost from the get-go. Colin Elmgreen’s 3-pointer just a little more than two minutes in gave the Cougars a lead they would never relinquish.
Chase Kelly scored a game-high 20 points, Lane added 15 and 10 players in all scored for Evergreen (10-5, 5-1 4A Jeffco League), which hasn’t lost to Conifer since Feb. 12, 2008.
“We came out hard. We did pretty much what we wanted to. We pretty much got all the shots that we wanted. We got the steals. They really didn’t challenge us as much on defense. We held them to eight points in the first quarter, 10 points at half. It wasn’t that really big of a challenge,” Kelly said.
The lead was 26-8 after one quarter, 28 points by halftime and 38 late in the fourth quarter.
It might’ve been a closer confrontation had Conifer (2-13, 0-6) not been missing two of its top four scorers — Jordan Danks (broken left wrist) and Caleb Henderson (torn left ACL). Both were injured in separate games — Danks vs. Wheat Ridge; Henderson against Green Mountain — in the week leading up to this one. They’ll miss the remainder of the season.
“We knew our offensive firepower wasn’t as strong without those two guys. We were trying to control the ball a little more and try to score as a team and being patient,” Conifer head coach Rich Gavelda said. “While we were more patient we were unable to finish near the basket. It took a little while to get warmed up.”
It took the Lobos, Gavelda said, a quarter to get into their game plan. By then it was too late.
Defensively, Conifer came to life in the second quarter, slowing an Evergreen offensive attack that scored at will in the first quarter. But offensively the Lobos were nowhere to be found until the second half. Trailing 38-10 at halftime, Conifer wasn’t even within shouting distance of the Cougars.
The Lobos went 12 minutes, 21 seconds between baskets from the first quarter into the third. But Conifer showed signs of an offensive presence over the game’s final 13 minutes, outscoring Evergreen 27-23. But the Cougars had essentially called off the dogs by that point.
Sam Macaulay led the Lobos with nine points. Nick Hickman added seven.
“There’s a lot of mind stuff. You got to get through that. You’ve got to let it not phase you. Sometimes it’s hard. ... You just got to push through it,” Macaulay said.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.