Evart opens girls season Monday at Farwell

EVART — Coach Paul Higgins enters his third year for an Evart girls basketball team that will open its season Monday at Farwell.

“Things went pretty well,” Higgins said early during the preseason. “I’ve seen some good things from kids. We’re taking the right direction right now.”

Senior Mara VanOrder, a fourth-year player, ranks as one of the top players for the Wildcats along with Brooke Belleville.

“They have the most experience back from last year overall,” Higgins said.

Others back from last season are Brittani Leonhardt, Rachel Martin and Mikayla Wallace. Higgins has 13 players on varsity and about that same number on JVs.

“We’ve had good numbers for the last two years,” Higgins said.

Jay Wallace is the junior varsity coach.

“I still think we can play an up-tempo game defensively,” Higgins said. “Moving some people around, we’ll try to fill in areas I think we lack in. I think we’ll surprise some teams with what I’m doing personnel wise. Defensively, we’ll try to pressure the ball as much as we can. We’ll try to make some defensive tempo with good ball pressure.”

VanOrder has been a key player in the middle for the Wildcats but will need to stay out of foul trouble, Higgins said.

“I think we’ll be able to do that,” he said. “She did a very good job of that last year. If we can improve on that, it will be a key to keep her on the floor as much as we can.”

It could be VanOrder’s best season.

“The conditioning on her part is probably the best I’ve seen it,” Higgins said. “She’s just at a different level conditioning wise this year. The same with Brooke. I think that comes from the cross country aspect of it.”

VanOrder and Belleville were two of Evart’s top cross country runners during the fall.

The Wildcats’ first home game is Dec. 4 with Chippewa Hills.