By Mike Dunn
EVART – The Evart girls basketball team held off a late charge by visiting Harrison in Tuesday’s season opener at home to secure a 44-39 victory in the debut of Wildcat coach Matt Tiedt.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win but we’ll take it,‘ said Tiedt, who had coached the seventh-grade Evart girls team before stepping into the varsity role this year.
“The girls were aggressive defensively and Kaylee Ladd did a great job of limiting Harrison’s big scorer (Alexys Carlstrom) in the first three quarters. We made some mistakes down the stretch and have some things to work on but overall it was a good start for us.‘
Evart owned a double-digit lead, 38-26, with five minutes left in the fourth quarter when Harrison went into a full-court press and started to create some turnovers and gradually trim the Wildcat lead. The Hornets pulled to within five points twice in the final 90 seconds of the contest but could get no closer, however.
Evart junior forward Kyleigh Burhans came through down the stretch, scoring all six of her points in a two-minute span late in the fourth quarter on breakaway buckets to help the Wildcats maintain their lead. Senior Kelci Elder and junior Kara Henry secured critical rebounds in the final minutes and Ladd continued to stick to the dangerous Carlstrom like flypaper. Senior point guard Livia Hopkins made two steals in the final quarter.
Elder, a physical force at both ends for the Wildcats, led with 18 points while Henry put nine on the board and Ladd tallied eight.
Carstrom, limited to single digits in the first three quarters, came alive in the fourth period to spark the Hornets’ comeback. She finished with a game-high 25 points.
Evart (1-0) travels to Lake City on Friday to open Highland Conference play.