Coming back from break, Evergreen’s girls basketball team found one key element of its game missing Friday against Wheat Ridge.
While the Cougars were stout defensively (forcing 25 turnovers) and strong on the glass (pulling down 32 rebounds), their offense was apparently still vacationing.
Despite the difficulties putting the ball in the basket, Evergreen found itself tied with the Class 5A Farmers at 41 after a layup by senior center Tricia Oakes with 32 seconds remaining.
The cross-classification game appeared destined for overtime until Wheat Ridge’s Jen Gold hit a jumper from just inside the free-throw line with 2.4 seconds left, sending the visiting Farmers home with a dramatic 43-41 victory.
“Wheat Ridge was a physical, scrappy team,” said Evergreen coach Ali Johnston. “They just got after it the entire time. We had a lot of steals. We had a lot of rebounds. We ran our plays. We just couldn’t hit our shots. That was tough.”
After falling behind by five points in the first half, Evergreen rallied in the third quarter, outscoring Wheat Ridge 12-6 to take a 31-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
The two teams traded leads - none more than three points - for most of the quarter. Evergreen trailed 41-39 with 44 seconds left after a free throw by Gold. On its ensuing possession, Evergreen smartly worked the ball down into the post to the 6-foot-4 Oakes, who converted on a layup to even the score.
Wheat Ridge failed to inbound the ball within the allotted five seconds following a timeout, turning the ball back over to the Cougars. Evergreen’s Grace Beaudin wound up with an open look from 3-point range at the top of the key, but traveled before getting her shot off, giving the ball back to the Farmers.
Wheat Ridge ran the clock down to just a few seconds before Kendra Austin hoisted a jumper from the left wing. The shot bounced off the rim, over the arms of Oakes and teammate Kimmy Baroch, and into the hands of Gold, who calmly sank the game-winning jumper.
Oakes led Evergreen with 17 points, while Baroch, who handled the team’s point guard duties for most of the game, chipped in with seven points and a strong defensive effort.
“It was frustrating,” Johnston said of the loss. “It shows how rusty you are. We were playing hard and playing well, we just couldn’t make a shot.”
Wheat Ridge 10-14-6-13—43
Wheat Ridge: Kendra Austin 4 2-2 10, Caitlin Wilkie 1 1-2 3, Taylor Wirth 2 0-0 4, Kelsey O’Connor 3 0-0 6, Sierra Cardenas 2 0-0 4, Jen Gold 5 1-3 14, Sam Miller 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 4-7 43.
Evergreen: Kimmy Baroch 2 3-5 7, Katie Helf 2 4-6 8, Grace Beaudin 1 0-0 3, Hayley Stading 0 2-2 2, Tricia Oakes 7 3-5 17, Kate Oakes 2 0-2 4. Totals: 14 12-20 41.
3-pt. goals: Gold 3; Beaudin.
Cougars fall in overtime
Evergreen rallied from a 16-2 first quarter deficit to force overtime with Golden Monday at Evergreen High School, but the Demons outscored the Cougars 7-4 in the extra frame to take home a 57-54 victory in the opening game of the Jefferson County tournament.
Cassie Lambrecht led Golden (6-4) with 34 points. Tricia Oakes was the top scorer for Evergreen (5-5) with 25 points. Guard Grace Beaudin chipped in with 16 points for the Cougars.