EVART — The Lady Cougars of Big Rapids Crossroads downed the Evart Wildcats Monday 58-43.

Both teams traded shots early on, with Crossroads taking a 9-7 lead with 4:14 left in the first quarter. Evart leaned on the scoring of senior guard Tabitha Turley, who sunk a three-pointer midway through the first to give the Wildcats a much needed boost of energy against the Lady Cougars’ forceful defense.

The latter half of the first quarter was dominated by Crossroads’ on the effort of senior center Alyssa Larson, who locked down the paint, rebounding in the away zone and scoring on put-backs.

“The game went both ways inside, and we could have had some more class come our way. But, I thought we played hard and rebounded hard tonight,” Evart coach Paul Higgins said.

Larson gave the Lady Cougars a stout early second quarter lead after swiping two throw-ins by Evart players and quickly putting the shots through. After the second consecutive turn-over, Evart gave up another on the very next throw-in. The third stolen ball was taken by freshman Cougar Jayla Strickland, who fed the ball to Larson for her third straight basket off of turned-over toss-ins. The scores gave Crossroads a 22-12 lead early in the second quarter.

Evart turned its game around late in the second quarter, shrinking the Cougars’ lead. Turley converted another three-pointer. The Wildcats continued their comeback in the final minute of the second quarter after junior forward Mara VanOrder sank two free throws.

It was 33-26 at halftime and 41-38, Cougars, after the third quarter.

The Lady Cougars buckled down in the latter part of the third quarter and early in the fourth as they leaned heavily on the defense and paint presence by Larson. Crossroads was able to shut down the Wildcats by pressing the ballholder. Larson picked up a pair of blocks late in the third quarter, but Crossroads was not able to generate points to extend their lead as Evart found a second wind.

The game sat at 41-38 after the third quarter.

Crossroads found more breathing room in the fourth quarter from the Wildcats with a 17-5 scoring edge.

“Coming off of break and having a lack of practice hurt us a bit, but we still had good intensity throughout the game,” Higgins said. “I feel as though if we could have limited the breakdowns, it would have been a different game.”

“It was an up-and-down game for sure, game of runs on both ends,” Crossroads coach J.J. Eads said. “Give Evart credit, they made us earn it tonight.”

Evart is home against Marion Friday.