Evart boys looking to net more victories

EVART — The Evart Wildcats are in their final week of January and getting ready for February with one hope in mind.

No more snow cancellations.

The Wildcats were scheduled this week to play at Pine River Tuesday and Boyne City Wednesday with both games obviously contingent on the weather. A road game is also set for Friday at McBain Northern Michigan Christian. They are also scheduled to be at Vestaburg on Monday.

There was no school and no practice on Monday of this week.

“We haven’t had practice since last Wednesday,” coach Kris Morgan said on Monday. “We went home early on Friday. Thursday’s game against McBain was the last time we were in the gym.”

An explosive 27-2 start for McBain was too much for Evart to overcome in a 65-44 victory for the Ramblers over the Wildcats in Highland Conference action Thursday night.

The Ramblers dominated the boards on both ends and made most of their shots in cruising to a 31-4 first-quarter lead. They hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, including two from Cole Powell, who had 10 points in the first eight minutes.

The Wildcats, held to four first-quarter points from Chris Garner, came alive in the second quarter with a 19-8 scoring advantage and cut their halftime deficit to 39-23. Cody Fournier had two triples and Jacob Fortune seven points in the quarter for the Wildcats.

Afterwards, Morgan acknowledged his team’s tendency for slow starts was obviously the culprit again. The solid second-quarter performance was encouraging, but not enough.

Garner scored eight points in the third quarter including a basket that cut McBain’s lead to 37-23. It was 52-35 going into the final quarter.

Grant Gugle’s three gave McBain a 55-37 lead early in the fourth.

The Wildcats tightened up on defense and cut the McBain lead to 55-41. McBain hit three free throws following a technical on Evart for a 58-41 lead. Pattee scored at 1:58 and it was 58-44, but the Wildcats ran out of time.

McBain coach Bruce Koopman admitted it was tough to maintain the first-quarter momentum in the second, but was happy with the second-half performance.

Garner and Pattee led Evart with 12 and 11 points respectively. Garner added 11 rebounds while Pattee had six steals and four assists.

McBain, 4-2 in the league and 6-4 overall, was led by Powell with 17 points.

Evart was 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Highland going into action this week. Both Pine River and Boyne City have been ranked in the top 10.

“It’s been an interesting year,” Morgan said, estimating his team has lost close to seven or more practice days this season, particularly with policy of no practices duirng the week if there’s no school. “I’ve been doing, nothing mandatory, like a Sunday open gym, where we come in for a shootaround. Maybe three-quarters of my team is there.”

This is also the second week Morgan is without three players that are ineligible for three weeks. Two of them, Robert Burge and Tre Dyer, have occasionally been starters. The other player is Josh Decator. That will leave his team three players short, Morgan noted, until the week of Feb. 10.