In arguably their biggest game of the season not involving rival Conifer, the Evergreen Cougars went with an unexpected game plan Jan. 22 against the Golden Demons.
And the Cougars were good at it. Far better than the Demons, as Golden strolled past Evergreen in the final minute for a key 49-45 Class 4A Jefferson County League victory.
“It was surprising to me,” Cougars coach Scott Haebe said after his team lost on its home floor for the first time this season, dropping to 10-4, 5-1 in league. “The last weeks, you know, we played well. Pretty consistent over 32 minutes.”
Against the Demons (8-8, 4-3), the Cougars had the consistency of oatmeal sprinkled with hairy raisins. They wedged two solid quarters between two quarters where they checked out, much to the delight of a Demons team that had been roughed up two days prior by Conifer and is now back in the Jeffco race.
The Cougars nearly got skunked in the first quarter. They were 0-for-9 from the floor, trailed 11-0 and had seven turnovers before freshman Andre Lane hit a long jumper with six seconds left.
“We were just stagnate the whole first quarter,” Haebe said.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars were outscored 15-5, shot 2-for-8 from the floor, 1-for-5 from the free-throw line and committed another seven turnovers.
Golden senior Ryan Stokes scored the game-winning basket on a layup with 1 minute remaining as he drove around his man and was uncontested to the rim.
“They were after us the whole time, and you got to give them credit,” Haebe said of the Demons.
Tom Aramovich drained three 3-pointers and led the Cougars with 17 points. The senior, however, was 0-for-4 from downtown in the fourth quarter.
Lane was the most consistent spark. He scored 10 of his 13 points in the third quarter as the Cougars’ lead swelled to 40-32 on his basket late in the quarter.
“Our defense was awesome in the first quarter, but their offense was (hurting Evergreen inside),” Lane said. “And then in the last 10 minutes of the first half we decided to pull it together.”
The Cougars outscored the Demons 18-9 in the second quarter to tie the game at the break, and put up another 20 points in the third quarter split between Aramovich and Lane.
But rarely did everyone get going at the same time.
Three of Evergreen’s starters combined for zero baskets and just four points.
Cam Tucker was 0-for-4 from the floor, but got involved on the boards in the second and third quarters, pulling down a team-best 10 rebounds.