Evart girls play tough against Highland Conference opponents

EVART — Evart’s girls basketball team fought back from a 16-point deficit in the second half before falling to Manton 47-40 in Highland Conference action on Friday.

Mara VanOrder had 27 points, 17 rebounds and four assists for Evart. Brooke Belleville had four points and three steals. Macey Wallace added four points.

Evart (0-8, 0-4) trailed 14-4 after the first quarter, 25-12 at halftime and 37-21 after the third period. Evart had a 19-10 scoring advantage in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Lake City’s defense was too much for Evart as the undefeated Trojans posted a 47-32 league victory on Jan. 12.

It was a matchup of winless and unbeaten teams. But the Wildcats played even with the Trojans (6-0, 4-0) in the first half which ended in a 20-16 Lake City lead. VanOrder scored all of Evart’s eight first-period points and helped the Wildcats gain an 8-4 lead. Lake City tied it 8-8 going into the second.

Cyana Dellar netted two straight baskets to give Evart a 16-14 lead with 1:36 to play in the first half. But Lake City scored six unanswered points going into the intermission.

“We played a sloppy first half,” Trojan coach Bill Tisron said. “Give Evart credit. They worked hard. That was one or our more challenging games all year.”

Jessilyn Hessell drove the baseline for a 26-19 Lake City lead with 3:00 left in the third quarter. The Wildcats continued to struggle offensively. Laraiah Schichtel scored with 1:15 to play for a 30-19 advantage. It was 31-19 going into the fourth.

“Overall, that was the best effort we’ve had all year,” Higgins said. “The third quarter killed us. That’s one of those things. It doesn’t matter if you’re up or down at the time. You have to come out and set the tempo in the third quarter. That was one thing we didn’t do off the start.”

VanOrder drove for a layup early in the fourth to cut Evart’s deficit to 31-24. Macey Wallace scored a baseliner for Evart, making it 35-26 at 4:07. VanOrder scored at 1:50 to cut the gap to 37-29. the Trojans Maggie Thom scored at 1:04 for a 40-29 lead.

VanOrder wound up with 15 points and 23 rebounds while Dellar and Brittani Leonhardt scored four points apiece.

“Mara is a tough player to stay in front of,” Tisron said. “The second half was much better. We played a more crisp game. We had a snow day Tuesday, which is no excuse. But we didn’t have a chance to practice. You could see there was some rust early on.”

Schichtel netted 19 points for Lake City.

“They’ve got some nice players,” Higgins said. “Not being in many close games, you can’t practice that intensity in practice. That’s something we’ll get better at.”

Evart is at Marion on Thursday and will host Pine River on Tuesday.