Defense propels Evart girls to win

EVART — Evart used a strong defense to frustrate Montabella Monday night and register a 30-21 non-league girls basketball victory.

Kortney Dennis scored 10 points while Chelsea Bengry added eight points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, who limited Montabella to double-digit scoring in each quarter.

Baskets were hard to come by in the first three quarters.

“We knew they had some big shooters and shot the 3-ball a lot,” said Evart coach Larry Brown. “We had to get at their shooters. We worked on that the last couple of days and did a good job overall. They didn’t get many good shots.”

Evart nursed a 19-18 lead going into the final quarter. Magdalen Hyde netted a free throw for Evart early in the fourth. Ashlie Hoffmeyer’s jumper at 4:30 gave Evart a 22-19 advantage. Cora Okkema connected from inside at 2:40 for make it 22-21. Hyde committed her fifth foul at 2:19.

Bengry scored inside following an inbounds pass on the side from Saige Nabozny for a 24-21 lead at 1:29. Montabella missed a free throw, allowing Evart to slow down its offense. Montabella got a steal with 45 seconds to play. Sarah Miller’s 3-point attempt went out of bounds.

Evart’s Kortney Dennis was fouled with 30.7 seconds to go and made two free throws for a 26-21 lead. The Mustangs couldn’t score on the other end and Bengry was fouled with 11.4 seconds to play. She hit both free throws for a seven-point lead to seal the win.

“We could not get anything to go down,” said Montabella coach Terry Larson. “We had a lot of opportunities.”

The Wildcats darted out to a 5-0 lead before the Mustangs got on the board. Rebekah Irani and Emily Korte both sank 3-pointers to give Montabella a 9-7 lead going into the second period. Both teams faced severe turnover problems in the second quarter.

Dennis’ 3-pointer at 1:09 tied the game 13-13 in the second quarter. Dennis scored inside with 30 seconds to go in the first half for a 15-14 Evart lead.

Taylor Smith and Okkema scored baskets to open the second half for an 18-15 Mustang lead. Bengry’s drive for a layup gave Evart at 19-18 lead with 3:20 left in the third. Both teams struggled offensively the rest of the quarter.

“They’re a decent team,” Brown said. “We’ve had a good last couple of games. We’re playing hard now. Things are starting to click for us as far as team goes.”

Okkema led Montabella with nine points. Miller, who entered the game averaging 14 points an outing, was limited to two free throws and no field goals.

Montabella fell to 10-4 while Evart improved to 8-4. Evart is at McBain Wednesday and at Manton Thursday in Highland Conference action.

“They’re one and two in our conference,” Brown said. “Our last two games have been our best in (not) turning the ball over. Hopefully we can withhold their pressure.”

The Wildcats had an impressive victory Friday over Beal City at home 38-29 in Highland Conference action. Evart led 16-10 at halftime.

Magdalen Hyde scored 12 points for Evart while Chelsea Bengry had eight points and 17 boards.

On Jan. 24, the Wildcats defeated McBain Northern Michigan Christian 50-40. Dennis had 14 points and eight rebounds while Ashlie Hoffmeyer put in seven points.