Funny things happen when you cross the border.
Last year Evergreen found out what it was like to play a state-ranked team with more than a little help from the stripes across the border in a loss to Lenawee Christian.
This year, the result was entirely different as the Vikings blistered the Cougars with a 17-0 first half run, and rolled to a 74-56 win to go to 10-1 on the year Tuesday at Evergreen.
“Going in we thought Lenawee Christian was really good,” stated Viking coach Jerry Keifer. “They have five athletes that all can put it on the floor and get to the basket. They all can shoot the three and I thought we did a good job on the one-on-one battles, keeping them in front of us.
“Our goal coming out was not to let them shoot the three, and if they did not to let them get uncontested looks; and I can’t remember many clean looks they got. I was really encouraged by the way we got down and played man-to-man defense and won our one-on-one matchups.”
The teams traded hoops for the first five minutes until Mason Loeffler stuck back his own miss with 3:33 left in the first to give Evergreen a 12-11 lead.
The Vikings never trailed again.
After Nate Brighton’s rebound basket pushed the lead to 16-11, Hanson Lilly tripled to get Lenawee back to within a point. That would be as close as the Cougars ever got.
Jack Etue found Mason Loeffler for an easy one to finish the quarter, and from there the Vikes went off.
Loeffler hit back-to-back triples, the second on an inside-out game from Brighton, and CJ Hauk had a pick and score to push the lead to 26-14.
Brighton hit two from the foul line, then Evan Lumbrezer scored on a reverse layup from Loeffler, and agaain Etue found Brighton on a drive and dish for a three-ball to make it 33-14.
Brighton’s three-point play with a minute left in the half kept the lead at 38-21 at halftime.
Etue laced two more from long distance in the third, with the second getting the Viking lead past 20 at 52-31 at the 3:15 mark.
Loeffler found younger brother Ethan for a layup, and Lumbrezer’s split at the foul stripe gave Evergreen their biggest margin, 56-34, with 90 ticks left.
Lenawee, however, did go on an 11-0 run in the next four minutes.
Lilly’s triple and two hoops by Adam Baker sparked the Lenawee run. Etue restored order when the Vikings went spread and the senior guard found Loeffler, and then Brighton, for easy buckets. Loeffler would go on a personal 10 point scoring rampage to again boost the Evergreen lead to 20 at 72-52.
Loeffler led all scorers with 31 points, including 12 in the fourth.
“Offensively it was one of those nights which Mason shot the ball well,” said Keifer. “We were able to get it inside and Nate and Mason didn’t mess around and made quick moves and scored.
“We can be pretty good when we get it inside and create good shots for everyone else. This is a good win but we still have a long way to go.”
The senior guard also had 10 rebounds.
Brighton had 24 – 17 in the first half – and added a whopping 18 rebounds as the Vikings held a 40-17 advantage on the glass. Etue passed out 10 assists on the night.
Lilly led Lenawee with 15.
Evergreen shot 56 percent (27-48) from the floor. Lenawee was 22 of 52.
Each team had just 11 turnovers in a high-paced game.
The Vikes now host Delta (4-9) in an NWOAL contest Friday, then Oregon Clay Monday.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org