The Evergreen boys basketball team might have recently won its Class 4A district tournament championship last weekend, but that team was nowhere to be found while hosting Bethel of Spanaway on Wednesday in a bi-district playoff game.
Outplayed early and trailing from start to finish, Evergreen lost 72-56 to Bethel.
Sophomore Robert Franks finished with a game-high 27 points while no other Evergreen player scored more than five. Franks picked it up in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 as Evergreen showed a burst of energy near the end.
Once trailing by as many as 27 points, the Plainsmen picked up the defense and Franks drained back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 68-54 with 2:06 remaining in the game.
However, the work that Bethel (15-8) put in through 31/2 quarters of play kept the team ahead. Four Bethel players scored in double figures, led by sophomore Bryce Bowers' 21.
"We didn't finish particularly well, so give Evergreen credit," Bethel coach Jason Carrell said. "They scored a lot of points there late (25 in the fourth quarter)."
The Plainsmen (12-11) fall to the loser's bracket for a must-win Friday night game against Jefferson of Federal Way. For that game, Evergreen coach Brian Witherspoon hopes that his team chooses and sticks with its winning personality.
"We're not done, it just makes it a little bit more difficult," Witherspoon said. "We still have to regroup and play the way that we know how to play. We need to see the district champions come out and play. Not the team from earlier this year."
Although Evergreen began the season losing four of seven games, the team bounced back to finish 9-5 through the second half.
"We have grown so much since then," Witherspoon said.
However on Wednesday, Evergreen's lack of energy stymied the growth spurt.
Bethel jumped to an 8-0 run to start the game. The Plainsmen, after missing several layups and botching two fast breaks, did not score until Franks hit a pull-up at the 2:13 mark. Evergreen trailed by 10 points after the first quarter, but sliced the lead to 17-13 early in the second.
"We had that energy burst then we reverted back to passive, not aggressive defense," Witherspoon said.
The Plainsmen watched the deficit balloon from four to eight by halftime, then take cover as Bethel rained down seven of its total nine 3-pointers in the third quarter.
"It wasn't so much about shots, it was about the defensive end," Witherspoon summed. "That's what I was looking at most of the time. …We gave up way too many points."
BETHEL 72, EVERGREEN 56
BETHEL -- John Thompson 12, Bryce Bowers 21, Joseph Johnson 6, Dominique Lewis 14, Jordan Iverson 2, Caleb Hancock 16, Morgan Calapp 1. Totals 28 7-11 72.
EVERGREEN -- Connor Finnegan 3, Jalen Ballard 5, David Shirts 0, Jahmil Johnson 4, Christian Chamberlin 0, Trent Foster 3, Nathan Tegarden 0, Robert Franks 27, Andrew Morris 5, Andrew White 4, Andre Johnson 4. Totals 18 10-14 56.
Bethel 15 15 28 14--72
Evergreen 5 17 9 25--56