As first-year coach Charles Neal put it, it’s time to find out what the Evergreen High girls basketball team is made of.
After Friday night’s 78-38 home loss to North Thurston of Lacey to open 3A bi-districts, Neal is certain of at least one thing about his Plainsmen, champions of the 3A Greater St. Helens League.
“I expect to see a better version of what you saw tonight,” Neal said. “… I’ve never seen them make the same mistake twice, so I don’t expect to see it in the next game.”
That next game is Tuesday hosting Central Kitsap. Its goal of reaching regionals is now detoured. Instead of clinching a regional berth in its opening-round game, it now must win two loser-out contests to reach regionals. That starts Tuesday against Central Kitsap, a 52-23 winner in its bi-district opener.
On Friday, the Fieldhouse at Evergreen High School saw an impressive performance from a Rams (18-3) squad that stifled the host Plainsmen ‘s offense while putting on their own offensive show. Sophomore guard Soraya Ogaldez poured in a game-high 41 points — 28 by halftime — and connected on 10 3-pointers.
North Thurston raced out to a lead of 23-6 and finished quarter on a 15-0 scoring run. In all, they had 16 steals and a 30-point advantage by the 6-minute mark of the third quarter.
The Plainsmen’s performance was far from their standards, players and coaches said. Friday was the first time in program history Evergreen hosted a playoff game in the current District 3/4 bi-district format and also their first home playoff game in 12 seasons. Lack of experience played a part in Friday’s performance, they said.
“I think a lot of people were nervous tonight and so that threw us off,” said Adrian Wright, one of two Plainsmen to reach double figures with 13 points. “We haven’t been in this atmosphere in a while and that isn’t an excuse. Next time we just need to turn it up. We know it’s not over. We need to keep our heads up.”
It’s been a historic season for the Plainsmen: its first league crown in 43 seasons and a 14-win improvement from a 1-win campaign in 2021-22.
Now, they’ll host Central Kitsap on Tuesday to keep its season alive. It’s a feat the Plainsmen believe can happen, albeit Friday’s detour. Of their five previous losses, Evergreen has bounced back with a victory. It hasn’t had a two-game losing skid all season.
“You’re not going to see us like that again,” said Kimora Ross, who led the Plainsmen with 15 points.
NORTH THURSTON 78, EVERGREEN 38
NORTH THURSTON — Jordyn Harn 2, Soraya Ogaldez 41, Grace Lee 10, Alexis Meyer 2, Kaylin Henderson 6, Kaylin Koval 2, Patricia Egrubay 5, Sadie Tanner 10. Totals 31 (13) 3-4 78.
EVERGREEN — Kimora Ross 15, Shakia Stanciell 2, Leigh Ann Herboth 2, Aiyanah Sefronio 5, Adrian Wright 13. Totals 15 (4) 6-10 38.
N. Thurston 23 20 19 16 – 78
Evergreen 6 14 10 8 – 38