STERLING — After a big win against Prairie View to open the Class 4A state tournament, the season has come to an end for the Evergreen Cougars boys basketball team.
The Cougars, seeded fifth in the Bill Weimer Region, suffered a 52-43 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Sterling on Feb. 29.
The defeat marks the third straight year the Cougars had its season ended by a team from the Northern Conference. In 2006 it was Greeley Central, and last year it was Windsor.
This year it was Sterling. What makes matters worse is that Evergreen actually had the lead with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left to play in the game.
“We’ve had a good year, but also a tough year,” Evergreen coach Scott Haebe said. “This year was interesting because it seemed like we could never get over the hump. However, I thought we handled the season real well. We always bounced back from tough losses and they were a very coachable group.
“I felt we made a good account of ourselves (Friday) and thought we played really well.”
Charlie Blackstock put in some work against Sterling, doing all he could to keep his team in the contest. The senior scored 21 points in the defeat in his final game wearing navy blue and gold.
Evergreen did a good job early in the ball game to go up 8-5 on 3-pointer from Joe Beaudin. The home team would then work the ball inside and drill a three to go up 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Blackstock picked up two early fouls in the first, but that didn’t stop the senior from putting in some work in the second. Blackstock would help his squad trigger a 9-0 run, taking a 29-14 lead, its biggest of the game.
Once again, Sterling came right back and tied the game at 21 before settling for the 23-23 tie at halftime.
“We came out a bit sluggish to start the game, but I felt we really played well, especially in the second quarter,” Haebe said.
Entering the third quarter, the two teams had four ties and three lead changes. The Cougars would once again begin the quarter on a positive note, getting three’s from Blackstock and senior Will Vickstrom.
Just like in the two quarters before, Summit marched back and ran off the final nine points of the quarter to take a 39-36 lead into the fourth.
The fourth quarter featured two lead changes and three more ties before the home team finished out the contest at the free-throw line. Evergreen attempted just one free throw all game, while Sterling was 6-for-9 in the contest — 5-for-7 in the fourth quarter.
“We started to get down and we began to put up some three’s to try to get back into it, but we couldn’t get anything to drop,” Haebe said of the final eight minutes. “We left the ball in the hands of our two best scorers and they got good looks, but nothing was going in. That was the story of the game.”
Other notable scorers for the Cougars included Beaudin with seven and both Vickstrom and junior Kurt Dieter with six apiece.
Seniors who stepped on the hardwood in for its final game were: Blackstock, Beaudin, Vickstrom, Matt Dodge, and Mike Philbin.