They say you can always come home again and ex-Evergreen three-sport star athlete Brittaney Cymbolin made her home debut as Viking girls basketball coach a memorable one as her Vikings topped Ayersville, 53-45 Thursday.
“I told our kids you have to play four quarters of hardcore basketball because (Ayersville) won’t go away,” said Cymbolin. “Their coach over there does a really good job of keeping the pressure up and keeping them focused, and I think we just got to them and wore them down.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter that saw the Vikings head into the second with a 15-14 lead, Evergreen’s scrambling, trapping, pressure cooker defense forced seven Ayersville turnovers and went on a 14-2 run.
Jamie VanLoocke and Alyssa Noe turned steals into Bailie Sutter baskets before Noe turned another Pilot mistake into a fastbreak hoop, then the senior point guard bobbed-and-weaved through the Pilot defense for a layup and scored a third hoop on a runner through the key to make it 25-14.
Korbin Martin momentarily stopped the Viking run with a pair of free throws but Noe and Sutter each scored off the offensive glass to bump the Viking lead to 29-16. Then, a series of Pilot free throws and Ally Samlow’s putback at the buzzer chopped the advantage to 29-22 at intermission.
“You know if you looked out on the floor tonight you saw only two kids who really played varsity basketball last year,” explained Cymbolin. “And these kids have worked so hard all summer and in the pre-season to get ready to play varsity basketball and I think Bailie Sutter, Jamie VanLoocke, Lexie Shipman coming back after sitting out all last year with a knee injury, Kelsie Komisarek and Mikayla Ball, they came out and worked hard.”
Amanda Addington’s basket to start the second half knocked the Viking lead down to 29-24, but one of the aforementioned returnees, Hannah Herr, answered 16 seconds later with a long triple that started an 8-0 run.
Freshman Abi Borojevich scored off the glass, Shipman split a pair from the line and Noe scored off another VanLoocke steal to give Evergreen a 37-24 lead.
Ayersville fought back with a 7-0 spurt keyed by Addington’s baseline jumper and three-ball, but Evergreen bumped the lead back to 43-31 on VanLoocke’s hoop from Noe, Borojevich’ long deuce and Komisarek’s steal and score before the end of the quarter.
“Our freshmen Abi Borojevich and Asia Gensch are really trying to step up and play with the people that have been playing for multiple years,” said Cymbolin. “We work very hard in practice and we let every kid know their role and let every kid know that they are important. I think that’s very important, if a kid knows their role and that they are important, those kids will give you productive minutes on the floor.”
Shipman’s crossover drive gave Evergreen their largest lead at 45-31 before the Pilots scored the next eight over three minutes as Evergreen went cold from the field.
Kelsey Johnston, Ashley Tressler and Meghan Engel scored on rebound hoops and Addington hit a wing jumper to get Ayersville within 45-39, but Herr’s drive from the left side righted the ship for Evergreen as the teams traded hoops the rest of the way.
Noe’s 16 and Sutter’s 14 paced Evergreen scoring as the Vikings evened their early season record at 1-1. Engel was the only double figure scorer for the Pilots with 11. Evergreen forced 20 Pilot turnovers while commiting just 11.
Evergreen now travels to Swanton on Thursday.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org