David doesn’t always have to knock out Goliath to be a winner.
Such was the case Friday night as the Evergreen girls opened the season as everyone expected – with a 40-29 loss to defending Class 4A champion and far-and-away No. 1 Broomfield.
But lost in that score were plenty of jaw-dropping moments from a Cougars squad that graduated five seniors from a year ago and is teetering somewhere between rebuilding and reloading.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way we started off,” senior Tricia Oakes said. “You can look at it as a loss, but it feels like a win because we played so hard against the No. 1 team in the state. I couldn’t ask for more from the girls. It was a great effort.”
And that’s not a rah-rah rendition. Consider:
The Cougars opened the game on a 6-0 run and led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter by limiting the Eagles to 1-of-13 shooting from the field.
Broomfield lost its inside tandem of 6-foot-1 junior Chaundra Sewell and 6-6 junior Anna Prins to early foul trouble, which put more pressure on the Eagles’ frosty shooters.
Evergreen (1-1) led 16-7 at halftime on Hayley Stading’s driving layup at the buzzer. The Eagles (1-0) had just three baskets and went into halftime having missed 23 shots.
The Cougars took their biggest lead 46 seconds into the second half when Oakes’ free throw made it 17-7.
Now breathe and contemplate that this is a Broomfield squad that went 24-2 last season and lost in the state quarterfinals in overtime. Would you believe that the Eagles would be so stumped and look so frazzled by the Cougars?
“I would have said, ‘No way,’” Cougars coach Ali Johnston said. “No way I would have believed that. We played unbelievable defense.”
Broomfield, however, had an answer. After Oakes’ free throw the Eagles embarked on a 10-0 run to tie the game before passing the Cougars when Autumn Chase’s 3-pointer put the visitors up 20-19.
They wouldn’t look back.
Behind a defense that forced nine turnovers in the third quarter and 21 for the game, the Eagles needed less than five minutes to go up 36-25 and finally put the pesky Cougars to bed.
“We kind of lost our heads a little bit, I think, when they came at us,” Oakes said. “We played hard the entire game, I don’t fault that at all, but I think we could have played a little bit smarter, and that’s all our faults. That comes with experience, I think.”
Oakes led the Cougars with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. Guards Grace Beaudin and Katie Helf scored six apiece.
Evergreen shot 38 percent from the floor in the first half but just 23 percent in the second half. The Eagles shot 11 percent in the first half but 45 percent after the break, thanks largely to their transition game.
Evergreen was 5-for-11 (45 percent) from the free-throw line compared to Broomfield’s 11-for-16 (68 percent) effort.
Johnston said she told her team it was a “lesson learned.” The Cougars showed their defense can give great teams trouble, but that they must convert easy baskets, open looks and free throws to beat those teams.
“All of them got after it,” Johnston said. “Every single one of them. I think that’s the signature of this team is that we’re going to be playing hard all the time.”
Broomfield: Davies 0 2-2 2, Chase 4 1-2 11, Rhodes 3 3-3 9, Sewell 1 0-0 2, Prins 1 4-4 6, Snow 1 0-0 2, Metoyer 1 1-2 3, Biegner 2 0-3 5, Reeves 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 11-16 40.
Evergreen: Hodson 1 0-0 2, Beaudin 3 0-0 6, Helf 3 0-0 6, Baroch 0 2-7 2, T. Oakes 4 3-4 11, Bestall 0 0-0 0, Stading 1 0-0 2, Van Gulik 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 5-11 29.
3-point goals: Chase 2, Biegner.