After years of losing, the Evergreen girls basketball team will be playing for a district championship Thursday night.
And the Plainsmen will have a shot to reach the Class 4A state tournament.
Justine Joudrey hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to crush Kelso’s momentum, and Shamerica Scott had a double-double to lead Evergreen to a 51-37 victory over Kelso at Skyview High School. The victory sends Evergreen to the Class 4A District 4 championship game against top-seeded Skyview.
The winner of that game Thursday will host a one-game playoff with District 2 to get to state. The loser will travel for the playoff game.
“We wrote ‘State’ on our arms because that’s our goal,” said Scott, who finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
For now, the Plainsmen are ecstatic with their spot in the district finals, a year after a winless season.
“It means everything,” first-year coach Jay Foreman said. “I can’t even begin to express this. The kids deserve the opportunity to be where they are. The did all the work. They beat a really good team tonight.”
Joudrey’s first 3-pointer came midway through the final quarter after Kelso cut a 16-point deficit to seven.
“Something always comes over me when I know I have to score,” said Joudrey, who finished with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. “There’s just something inside me. I know I’m going to make it.
“As soon as I made it, I knew we were going to win.”
The Evergreen defense held Kelso on the other end, then Joudrey proved her point with another swish from long range.
But it was far from just the Joudrey-Scott show. Evergreen’s triangle offense led to easy baskets after quick passes.
Amber Berry, one of the players who has endured Evergreen’s struggles through the years, had back-to-back assists that led to lay-ups. Then Sheleena Giles did the same thing, two assists for easy 2s.
Kelso was led by Carly Perkins’ 19 points. She was 9 of 14 from the floor, while the rest of the Hilanders were 8 of 42.
Kelso had a two-point lead after the first quarter, but Evergreen got going in the second quarter and had a 25-20 lead when Joudrey beat the halftime horn. The Plainsmen increased the advantage to 14 by the end of the third quarter, courtesy of all those passes.
Scott added four assists and two steals to her linescore for the Plainsmen. Now, she, Joudrey, and the rest of her teammates are hoping for another all-around performance Thursday.
“We’ve worked so hard to be here,” she said. “We’re in second place, and we really feel like we should be in first place. That’s what we want.”
Thursday, they have a chance to get there in the district championship game.