EVART — Evart’s girls basketball team got off to a strong start against Manton Saturday afternoon but couldn’t hang onto the lead and lost 54-51 in Highland Conference girls basketball action.

The Wildcats were up 16-3 after the first quarter with Kristin Kullman scoring 10  points.

But Manton came back with an 18-6 scoring advantage in the second to cut Evart’s lead to 22-21. It was 33-33 after the third quarter. Manton had a 21-18 scoring advantage after the final quarter.

The first quarter “was probably our best quarter of the season,” said Evart coach Paul Higgins. “We got out, hit open shots, which was a positive.”

Kullman wound up with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Mara VanOrder had 14 points, 18 rebounds and a steal. Tabby Turley had seven points, seven rebounds and five steals.

VanOrder had foul trouble throughout the game, which proved to be another key factor.

“In the first half, she only played four minutes,” Higgins said. “We still had the lead at halftime. In the second half, she played only 10 minutes because of foul trouble. We were able to do (OK) without her on the floor. The kids were looking to score.”

VanOrder, who did not foul out, had nine points in the fourth quarter.

For the game in free throws, Evart was 13-of-28 and Marion 24-of-39.

“We weren’t moving our feet on defense,” Higgins said. “We have to do a better job of (making) our foul shots and moving our feet on defense.”

Slopping offense at times also hurt the Wildcats.

“Our turnovers killed us,” Higgins said. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers.” Evart is 0-10 overall and 0-6 in the Highland.

The Wildcats dropped a 100-25 contest to McBain on Thursday.

Courtney Lang led the Wildcats with eight points and Kullman recorded six points.

Evart  is home this Friday against McBain Northern Michigan Christian and home next Monday against Clare.