The Evergreen Plainsmen’s list of accomplishment this season goes like this:
A third-place finish in the 3A Greater St. League.
Thirteen losses and a below-500 record.
An RPI of 37.
So what, the Plainsmen say.
“We’re not done yet,” senior point guard DJ Edmonsen said.
Add one more to the list: a 3A regional berth. Evergreen is headed to the regional round of the Class 3A boys basketball state tournament after its 73-60 victory over league-rival Mountain View on Saturday.
The win caps off an impressive bi-district run by Evergreen winning three loser-out contests and playing four games in seven days in a season where there’s been more losses (13) than victories (11). The Plainsmen have now won eight of their past 10 games since a nine-game losing skid earlier this season.
“It’s amazing,” Edmonson said. “We live for moments like this. … We felt like we left it all out there.”
Edmonsen had a game-high 23 points, Delo Doutrive added 21 as the Plainsmen (11-13 overall) capitalized on a back-and-forth contest by scoring 32 fourth-quarter points. The two teams split their regular-season meetings, each winning on their home floor.
Because of the new 20-team regional format specifically designated for Class 3A boys and girls, Evergreen is one of eight regional-bound teams to play in a Tuesday’s play-in game. WInners of those games advance to the round-of-16 regional Saturday.
Evergreen will learn its seed and opponent Sunday afternoon by the WIAA. Mountain View’s season ends at 12-9.
Saturday was an all-3A GSHL matchup for the final regional berth out of the 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament after both teams won their opening two bi-district loser-out games, then each lost Friday.
Evergreen and Mountain View were tied after the first quarter (12-all), halftime (28-all) and third quarter (41-all), but the fourth quarter was when momentum went in Evergreen’s favor. A putback by Arthur Ban 14 seconds into the fourth quarter opened a 7-0 run and turned out to give Evergreen the lead for good. From there, it grew to double digits for the first time at 54-44 and remained at douglt digits the final 3:04 of the game. Before the fourth quarter, no lead by either team was greater than four.
Isaiah Vargas (20 points) was one of four Mountain View players to reach double figures.
As impressive as Evergreen’s victory was Saturday, what’s equally impressive is how the Plainsmen got to this stage given their mid-season struggles.
That’s because at one stretch, Evergreen lost nine straight. Its record on Jan. 20 was 3-11.
Amid a nine-game losing streak that ran Dec. 26 through Jan. 18, coach Brett Henry questioned if Evergreen would reach the playoffs, let alone have a chance to play for a regional berth.
Saturday was a proud moment for Henry because he said his players never quit.
“There were some dark times,” the coach said. “They stayed with it, and every day, kept getting better. Mentally, physically, they bought in and stayed with it.”
With a handful of new faces, including three in the starting lineup, Edmonsen and Doutrive said it took time for team chemistry to develop this season.
But the Plainsmen say they never lost faith, despite an 8-12 record entering bi-dsitricts. They won five of their final six regular-season games to earn the third and final 3A GSHL playoff berth.
“We’ve come a long way,” Doutrive said. “Our coaches always told us we could do this, and they believed in us, so we kept pushing harder and harder. Every loss we learned something from it.”
EVERGREEN 73, MOUNTAIN VIEW 60
EVERGREEN — Arthur Ban 8, Juelz Mendoza 10, Robert Lawrence 5, Adrian Williams 4, Delo Doutrive 23, DJ Edmonsen 21, Davonni Wright 0, Carmelo Stewart 0, Fox Crader 2, Joey Pham 0, Lenny Fierro 0. Totals 28 (2) 15-17 73.
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Jacob Martin 12, Isaiah Vargas 20, Aiden Nicholson 11, Mahkakri Bolds 3, Michael Tauscher 10, Ledarius Washington 0, David Tauscher 4. Totals 18 (3) 17-25 60.
Evergreen 12 16 13 32—73
Mtn. View 12 16 13 10—60