Evergreen hadn’t been in a game situation for 14 days and for a good chunk of the game against Swanton, it showed as the Bulldogs scrapped for every loose ball, went nose-to-nose with the Vikings on the boards and created as many turnovers in a half as Evergreen committed in many games this year.
However, the two things coach John Langenderfer’s Vikings did do well all night was defend and put the ball in the basket as Evergreen used a sizzling 58 percent shooting from the floor compared to Swanton’s 27 percent to beat the Bulldogs 56-30 on Tuesday.
“There were times we looked pretty shaky,” said Langenderfer. “Defensively though other than about three minutes in the first half we did a pretty good job limiting (Kyleigh) Ramlow and (Haley) Nelson getting good looks. They’re a good team, they had a down night. They scrapped and to be honest played harder than we did a lot of times. They hit the floor for every loose ball and hey, they won a lot of those battles.”
It took over three minutes before Claire Leidigh split a pair of free throws and Sidney Taylor scored on a backdoor layup to give Swanton a 3-0 lead.
Little did anyone know is those were the last points the Bulldogs scored for the next 7:42.
During that time, Evergreen nailed 9 of 11 from the field, including four triples in a 22-0 run in just over seven minutes. Alyssa Noe’s drive lit the fuse to the keg of dynamite that followed. Haili Mossing drilled a triple, Eden Eisel scored a fastbreak hoop on a great feed from Hannah Herr, Rachael Noe laced another three-ball before Alyssa Noe scored on a fastbreak pass from Mossing to end the quarter.
The second stanza began the same way the first ended as Alyssa Noe got loose inside, Eisel ripped back-to-back threes then scored a fastbreak basket of her own before Taylor Pelland’s free throw ended the run with 4:38 left in the half.
Herr answered with yet another transition hoop from Rachael Noe before the Bulldogs made a mini run keyed by Ramlow’s pair of long distance bombs to get back within 27-15 at the break.
The Viking defense that allowed the Bulldogs to shoot just 5 for 18 in the opening half, stepped up their intensity even more in the third, harassing Swanton into eight turnovers and forcing the Bulldogs into 0 of 5 shooting as Cydney Christensen’s pair of foul shots and another pair from Nelson were the only Swanton points of the third.
Meanwhile Alyssa Noe, Eisel and Kaela Fauble each scored two baskets, boosting the Vikings lead to 42-19 going into the fourth.
Evergreen reached their biggest lead when Rachael Noe locked in on another Viking triple for a 56-26 lead as Langenderfer rotated players throughout the fourth quarter.
“There’s a reason they were picked at the top of the league in pre-season,” said first-year Bulldog coach Eric Oakes. “They have a lot of nice players, and if you focus on one, they have at least three or four others that will hurt you. They hit threes in the first half, they hit other outside shots mid-range, Fauble does a nice job underneath getting them extra chances.
“Yes I think they are the best in the league right now. We competed, we scrapped and hustled but we still have some growing to do.”
Both teams had 18 turnovers for the game, with the Vikings committing five of those late. Eisel had 19 to lead all scorers while Alyssa Noe had 13.
Ramlow’s nine led the Bulldogs.
Evergreen now hosts Liberty Center in NWOAL play tonight while the Bulldogs have a contest with Delta.
Joe Blystone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org