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Lady Cougars overcome their nerves

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By Dan Johnson

Inexperience has been the buzzword around the Evergreen girls basketball team all season.

At times, their inexperience showed in ways that hurt the Cougars’ chances to win games. Other times, you’d never have guessed most players on the team were in their first year of varsity ball.

On Feb. 24, the Cougars showed a little of both, with the more poised version of the two-headed monster winning out.

Hayley Stading, Grace Beaudin and Jordan Florschuetz combined to score 42 points, leading Evergreen to a 64-53 victory over Northridge in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament. Evergreen, seeded seventh in the Tanya Haave Region, traveled to No. 2 Glenwood Springs (18-3) Feb. 27 for a second round game and, while they put a competitive fight, ultimately fell 48-44.

“You could see we were a little nervous starting out,” said Evergreen coach Ali Johnston after the Northridge game. “I think once the girls settled down, they did a great job.”

The Cougars (14-11) led Northridge by six at halftime and broke the game open in the third quarter with a 14-2 run, punctuated by consecutive 3-pointers by Bryn Haebe and Beaudin. Beaudin’s 3-pointer gave the Cougars their biggest lead at 49-32.

Northridge (7-17) responded with a 9-0 run and late in the fourth quarter chipped the deficit down to as little as six before the Cougars put the game away for good at the free-throw line.

“I was really happy with how we executed in the second half,” Johnston said. “We had good ball movement and took good shots. Defensively, we really closed out on (Northridge’s) shooters and that was difference in the game.”

Stading and Beaudin carried the Cougars in the first half, scoring 19 of the team’s 33 points. After falling behind early in the first quarter, Evergreen rallied and when Stading hit a deep 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer, the Cougars led 18-14. Northridge refused to go away, drawing back within a point before an untimely technical foul allowed the Cougars to close out the first half scoring five straight points to build a 33-27 advantage.