Evart’s season ended by Clare

EVART — The season is over for Evart with an 11-10 record in girls basketball.

Freshman Lindsay Winter scored 24 points and had nine steals to lead the undefeated Clare Pioneers past the Wildcats 50-25 in a first-round Class C district game Monday night

But Wildcat players like Karena Hipkins, a senior, reflected on a season in which Evart cleared the .500 barrier.

“We had a pretty good season,” Hipkins said. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t have the team chemistry I would have wished for. But as the year went on, we definitely got better.”

“We had a game plan coming in,” said Evart coach Larry Brown. “It was mainly based on our defense and how we’d play that 1-3-1. We started out playing it well. We couldn’t make some easy baskets to start with. If some of those baskets fall and we keep playing hard...But we had a rough night shooting the ball. They were layups, free throws and jump shots we normally make.”

Clare, 21-0, plays White Cloud in a district semifinal game on Wednesday at Evart.

“You hate to lose like this,” Brown said, while acknowledging he was happy with the winning record.

Chelsea Bengry scored inside for an early 2-0 Evart lead. Clare, playing without starting senior center Taylor Bicknell, who sustained a knee injury in Friday’s regular-season finale against Farwell, started out sluggish offensively.

“Even without their big girl, we knew we had strength in the post,” Brown said. “Our post players played well. We executed our plays well, but we couldn’t finish, that’s what it came down to.”

Clare started gaining momentum and scored the next seven points. Magdelen Hyde scored for Evart with 33 seconds left in the quarter with Clare ahead 7-4.

While the Wildcats struggled offensively in the second quarter, Winter snuck open several times and hit three triples along with a field goal and two free throws for 13 points in the quarter. She hit two 3-pointers to open the quarter for a 13-6 Clare advantage. When she hit her third triple of the quarter with 20 seconds left in the half, the Pioneers were up 22-6.

Ashley Petree scored inside to open the third quarter and moments later passed to Winter for a lay-in and 26-6 lead. Samantha Bramer ended Evart’s lengthy scoring drought by converting at 7:15 of the third quarter.

Benchley’s layup at 6:45 made it 28-8, Clare, and Winter’s triple at 6:15 made it 31-9. Courtney Hooker scored for Evart with three minutes left in the third but Clare was well ahead 35-11. It was 37-13, Pioneers, after three.

Bengry opened the scoring in the fourth quarter. Winter hit another triple at 5:30 for a comfortable 42-21 Clare advantage.

Evart was led by Bramer with five points.

“They’re one of the better teams we played this year,” Hipkins said. “Their best player (Winter) had a good game. We just couldn’t make a shot.”