Evart falls to Montabella girls

EVART — It’s a busy week with three games for the Evart girls basketball team.

But it didn’t start out the way the Wildcats preferred with a 54-41 home loss Monday night to non-league foe Montabella.

The Mustangs hurt the Wildcats extensively with offensive rebounds, especially in the second quarter, and had a 32-21 halftime lead.

“That’s been hurting us all season,” Evart coach Paul Higgins said. “You can’t give a team two, three or four shots every time down the floor. You have to put a body on everybody, and limit teams to one shot. We’re lucky to get an offensive reobund. If we do get one we don’t convert on it.”

Evart, led by Tabby Turley with seven first-quarter points, built an early-game lead, but five points apiece from Ashley Swarts and Kenna Wood sparked Montabella to a 13-10 bulge going into the second.

The Mustangs opened the next quarter with a 7-0 run and took advantage of a sluggish Evart offense. Kristin Kullman came through with a triple and eight points in the quarter to keep the Wildcats close. But Montabella continued to hurt Evart on the boards and two straight putbacks by Madi Cutler, who had 13 points in the quarter, gave Montabella the 11-point lead.

Mara VanOrder and Allyssa Witbeck scored off their own steals to make it 34-28 midway in the third. Montabella’s offense was struggling in the third until a 3-pointer with 50 seconds to go by Hanna Stockwell. The Mustangs were up 37-28 after three.

Kullman sank a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter. But Montabella followed with eight unanswered points. VanOrder was whistled for her fifth foul with 4:45 to play in the game and Kat Wells hit a foul shot for a 46-33 lead. Turley’s triple made it 46-36 at 4:05. The Mustangs continued to thwart Evart with offensive rebounds and Swarts connected for a 52-41 lead.

“We did a really good job rebounding  (Monday),” Montabella coach Terry Larsen said. “We’ve been emphasizing that and lowering our turnovers. Both kind of came together tonight.”

“You have to put a body on somebody,” Higgins said. “We have a bunch of people that are just spectators right now.”

Kullman had 16 points and six rebounds for Evart while Turley had 11 points and nine rebounds and VanOrder had seven boards. 

Cutler had 19 points and Wells 17 points for Montabella, 2-3.

Evart, 1-3, has lost three straight games.

Evart was also home Tuesday night against McBain Northern Christian and Friday against Beal City.

“We have to get right back after it (Tuesday),” Higgins said. “Friday the same thing. We have to bring the intensity, get focused and keep hammering away.”