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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Evergreen boys basketball team can go far with combination of size, shooting

Plainsmen hit 13 3-pointers Tuesday against Seton Catholic, including seven in first quarter

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 6, 2023, 12:13pm

Strong shooting appears to be a signature trait of this year’s Evergreen boys basketball team.

Evergreen coach Brett Henry agrees with that assessment through three games, but doesn’t want the Plainsmen to lean too much on one thing.

Evergreen came out firing in Tuesday’s non-league home game against Class 1A Seton Catholic by hitting seven 3-pointers in the opening quarter, including three from sophomore Dez Daniel, that set the tone for an eventual 78-60 win. Six players combined to hit 13 3-pointers during the game led by Daniel (17 points), Kai Speer (13 points), Damarien Walden (12 points) and Landon Rayner (10 points).

“We got shooters on our team,” Daniel said. “We were in the lab all offseason. We didn’t like how our season ended last year. We was in the lab all (offseason) trying to get our jumpers right, weight room, all that.”

10 Photos
Evergreen’s Arthur Ban leaps to throw down an alley-oop dunk during a non-league boys basketball game against Seton Catholic on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, at Evergreen High School.
Prep Boys Basketball: Seton Catholic vs. Evergreen Photo Gallery

Along with shooting, the Plainsmen (2-1) have a plethora of size in the post, led by senior starters Arthur Ban (6-foot-5) and Fox Crader (6-8), both D-I football recruits who are committed to San Diego State and Oregon, respectively.

Crader made his season debut Tuesday after working his way back from a high ankle sprain suffered during football season. Ban, meanwhile, came into the winter season in “incredible shape,” Henry said.

All combined, it’s the biggest team Henry has had in seven years as Evergreen’s head coach, and they plan to take full advantage.

“We have some pretty big weapons inside that, if we can pound it inside, then we hope defenses will collapse and we can shoot,” Henry said. “I don’t want to rely on the shooting though, because it’s not always going to go in.”

As Daniel alluded to, the Plainsmen had some extra fuel pushing them through offseason workouts based on how last season ended.

With one postseason berth up for grabs, Evergreen was one of three teams playing a tiebreaker for third place in the 3A Greater St. Helens League. The Plainsmen lost a one-point heartbreaker against Prairie that was decided on two missed free-throw attempts with no time remaining on the clock. Evergreen’s season ended short of the playoffs, while Prairie moved on to the 3A bi-district tournament.

“All (our) focus is just, we want to win league,” Daniel said. “We lost in a tiebreaker last year, obviously, so we have that bitter taste in our mouth. We want our revenge.”

The extra work hasn’t stopped since the season tipped off. Days after Evergreen lost its first game of the season to Battle Ground, all of the Plainsmen’s main rotational players were in the gym on Sunday working on their own outside of the team’s practice schedule.

“This team is as connected as we’ve had, just as a group,” Henry said. “They all like each other. Our top seven guys were in the gym on Sunday because they wanted to be. That never happens. I’m excited, and hopefully we can stay together.”

“We just have a family culture,” Daniel added. “We don’t get too down on ourselves. We’re a good family — we pick each other up.”