EVART -- It was an intense, back-and-forth 32 minutes of basketball, but it was the Wildcat boys of Evart who grabbed the 46-37 Highland Conference win at home over the Beal City Aggies Monday night.

With the victory, Evart has improved its record on the season to 4-5 (3-5) and moves into a tie for fourth place in the conference with the Houghton Lake. Beal City is now 3-6 (3-4) overall.

"I knew defensively if we could go right at them all night long, then we're going to be solid," Evart coach Kris Morgan said after the game. "We wanted to win the defensive battle and we wanted to win the rebounding battle."

The Wildcats began the game by sinking their first three shots from the floor, including one coming from beyond the arc.

After one quarter, it was Evart who led 13-7, but Beal City found itself in a stretch of accurate shooting from long range in the opening moments of the second quarter.

Beal City spent most of the second quarter on the heels of Evart and closed an already small gap, but Evart did not make it easy for their opponents.

After an increasingly physical first half drew to a close, the Wildcats and Aggies went into halftime deadlocked at 20 points apiece.

Evart opened the second half on a quick 7-2 run to reclaim the lead it lost in the waning minutes of the first half and led by five points with just a shade over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

With the final quarter still to play, the Wildcats had a 31-25 lead.

Neither team converted on a field goal attempt until a Beal City 3-pointer made it a three-point game with 6:20 left on the clock in regulation.

As the minutes ticked away, Aggies began to press for the lead and eventually came within a single point of the Wildcats with four-and-a-half minutes to go.

Clinging to the slim lead late in the contest, Evart did its best to play keep away and took advantage of some empty Beal City possessions to go up 37-33 with less than two minutes left.

After a couple of successful trips to the charity stripe, the Wildcats were up by eight and able to put the game away to seal the victory in the final minutes.

"It's been a few years since we beat Beal City, so we'll take this and learn from it," Morgan said. "We're building on this and moving on to try and go after Lake City on Friday."

Evart and Beal City will see each other one more time before the end of the regular season when the Wildcats visit the Aggies on Feb. 21.

Evart's boys will be back in action at home for their next High Conference contest against Lake City (7-1, 5-1) on Friday.

Lake City is currently the first-place team in the Highland Conference standings.

Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.

Scoring line:

Evart: Cameron Brasington 17, Justin Buckner 12, Haidyn Simmer 11, Donavin Reagan 2, Tony Hartsock 2, Nolan Theunick 2.