EVART — Evart senior Kristin Kullman gave clear indication she’s ready to have a stellar season.

Kristin Kullman scored 27 points and hit five triples to lead the Wildcats, who didn’t win a game last season, in a 61-49 nonleague girls basketball game (Dec. 2) in the season opener for both teams.

Evart fired out to a 6-0 lead then struggled with its shooting for the rest of the first quarter.

Kullman hit two free throws and Rachel Martin make a field goal for a 10-6 lead going into the second. Tabby Turley scored six points in the second quarter to help the Evart offense come alive.

Mara VanOrder, who sat on the bench in foul trouble for half of the quarter, hit four points in the second to help the Wildcats maintain a 24-22 halftime lead. Both teams were in the double bonus and went to the line extensively in the first half. Evart scored half its points in the first half from the free-throw line.

“We had a good pep talk at halftime,” Kullman said. “We had some jitters at the beginning and got those out.”

“We had quite a few defensive lapses,” Evart coach Paul Higgins said. “First-game jitters is probably what it boiled down to. For the most part I thought we were conditioned fairly well. But once you throw all that in there you’re getting in into an intense situation and it makes all the difference in the world. You can’t simulate this in practice or even a scrimmage.”

Kullman netted a triple early in the third for a 27-25 Evart lead. Marissa Gassel hit two straight for a 31-27 Eagles lead midway in the quarter. Tina Fournier had a 3-point play later for Evart to make it 31-30. Kullman netted another triple to tie the game 33-all at the three-minute mark.

Turley drove for a bucket at the buzzer to end the third quarter with a 37-37 tie. Gassel had five points in the first minute of the fourth to give Farwell a 42-38 lead. Kullman hit three free throws to keep Evart in the game. VanOrder’s 5-footer tied the game 42-42 at 6:30. Gassel countered with a 3-point play moments later. But Kullman answered with another triple.

She hit another three at 4:19 for a 48-46 Wildcat lead. Kullman scored later and then Brooke Belleville connected off a steal for a 52-46 lead with 3:28 to play. Allyssa Witbeck drove for a basket and 54-46 lead at 2:50. Another Kullman triple at 2:20 made it 57-47.

“We didn’t win last year, and we had tears in the lockerroom (after the Dec. 2 game),” Kullman said.

Among the key parts to the win were “how we worked together and the way we pushed the ball,” Kullman said. But hitting free throw and layups are essential for getting more wins, she added.

“We had our chances early to kind of put the game away,” Higgins said. “We didn’t take care of the little things.”

Higgins acknowledged that Kullman put in an extensive amount of basketball time during the summer.

“Basically from the time we finished on Feb. 28, she was in the gym, working on her game, working on summer camps and a lot of individual stuff,” Higgins said. “We spent hours in this gym shooting the basketball.”