OREGON — Evergreen made one pair of words prophetic and an old slogan an out and out lie.
The two words that became the defensive moniker in the days of Evan Lumbrezer — “create chaos” — were right on point as the Vikings forced 14 second half turnovers, and yes you CAN get something for free as Evergreen nailed 28-36 free throws in a 53-50 opening night win over Clay Friday in boys basketball.
The Vikings played under assistant coach Todd Woodring, while the current winningest coach in the NWOAL, Jerry Keifer, sat out due to a suspension after being ejected from Evergreen’s last tournament game of last season.
“Our frontcourt played very well tonight,” Woodring stated. “They handled the ball very well; they caused havoc defensively. The boys came out and played defense face to face after that opening quarter and we got back in the game.”
The Vikings fell behind early as 6’6” Luke Measel got inside three times in the opening quarter and a trio of Eagle triples boosted Clay up 19-10.
With Clay still up nine early in the second, the Vikings began to chip away.
Eli Keifer found Drew Gillen diving to the rim for a hoop, then hit 2-2 from the foul line to get Evergreen back to 21-16.
Tyson Woodring sped coast-to-coast on a rebound to bring Evergreen within a possession.
With Clay up 27-22, Gillen and Woodring each cashed in a pair at the line to bring the Vikings within a point at 27-26.
After Lucas Jeremy hit from way above the arc, Keifer scored from the middle of the key and Gillen again nailed 2-2 from the stripe to bring Evergreen even at 32-32 at the break.
It was then in the third that Evergreen made Clay chaotic offensively.
Eight Eagle turnovers turned into a parade at the foul line as seemingly each turnover resulted in a Viking going to the rim and getting fouled.
Woodring hit two and Blade Walker went 3-4 to boost Evergreen on top for the first time at 37-34.
Woodring’s steal and score became an ‘and-1’ before Keifer hit a foul-line jumper and Woodring again beat the defense to the rack on a drive for a 45-34 lead heading into the fourth.
“We talked at halftime about the decisions we needed to make to cause chaos,” Coach Woodring explained of the third quarter shutdown where Clay scored just two points.
“We got them in foul trouble also, got in the bonus and took advantage of it. My scorekeeper just told me we only scored three buckets in the second half but when you shoot almost 80 percent at the line and shoot 36 free throws, well, you tell me that making free throws doesn’t win games, I believe everyone saw that tonight.”
Four more free tosses in four attempts from Woodring and Gillen gave the Vikings their biggest lead (49-36) with 5:23 left — but the Vikings went into a scoring lull.
Four turnovers and three missed layups in the next five minutes allowed Clay a chance and the Eagles came back with a 10-0 run on Ben Roberts’ triple and a bucket — along with another three-ball from Jeremy to get back to 49-46.
Gillen hit both ends of the bonus with 25 ticks left but Evan Baker’s long-range three shaved the lead to 51-49.
After a miss at the line, Baker missed the first of a two shot foul with 1.8 left and Walker hit all net with two more after grabbing the inbounds with half a second left for the final margin.
Woodring had 21 points and three steals to pace the Vikings.
Gillen had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“They were big and physical,” Coach Woodring said. “We talked about that before the game and said we had to be physical too and Drew played a great game.”
Keifer, who only played about 16 minutes before fouling out halfway throught the fourth, had 10 points.
Evergreen hosts North Central Tuesday night before welcoming league favorite Swanton (1-0) Friday.