Free throw shooting spoils strong Evart defensive effort

EVART – McBain Northern Michigan Christian hit its free throws on Tuesday. But the Evart Wildcats struggled at the line.

It was perhaps the factor that mattered the most in the Comets 58-50 Highland Conference overtime victory over the Wildcats.

Kamden Darling and Marcel White scored 12 points apiece for leading a balanced Evart attack while Dakobe White and Jordin Albright added 10 apiece.

“I thought we played really well,” Evart coach Kris Morgan said. “I thought my guys were into our defense despite how small we are. I thought we did excellent underneath.”

Evart was up 10-8 after the first quarter but trailed 26-21 at halftime. The visitors led 36-34 after the third.

Jordan Albright scored to open the fourth quarter for Evart and tie the game.

It went down to the final seconds of regulation with Marcel White driving down the lane for the basket and a 47-47 tie. But the Wildcat offense continued to struggle and the Comets’ Brant Winkle especially hit key foul shots in the overtime. Ethan Bennett put in a slam dunk for a 54-49 lead and the Wildcats couldn’t recover.

“Free throws were huge,” Morgan said. “They were probably 13 for 15 and we were 4-for-15 (down the stretch). That was a huge difference. Overall, I thought our effort was pretty good. It was a good step for us tonight.”

Officially for the game, NMC was 20-of-27 from the line. Blake DeZeeuw led NMC with 15 points.

“As small as we are, we have to work on defense,” Morgan said. “A huge game plan for us was to trust that post, use backside help and NMC did an excellent job of going block-to-block on their offense. We had to have a weakside guy underneath to stop that because we had to double their bigs.”

“We played a pretty good game but couldn’t knock down our free throws,” Marcel White said. “The last time we won we thought we played our best game defensive wise. We thought we should have gotten a few more calls but didn’t. We’ll make up for it in our next game.”

Evart will play at Houghton Lake on Thursday.