Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Feb. 7, 2023

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Evergreen girls basketball team wins overtime thriller over Heritage

Plainsmen keep pace for first place in 3A Greater St. Helens League

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

The Fieldhouse at Evergreen High School was rocking on Friday night as the crowd rallied behind another win for the Plainsmen girls basketball team.

A program with many losing seasons in years past has had a lot of things to celebrate this season.

Evergreen won its 11th game of the season, 55-54, over Heritage in an overtime thriller to keep the Plainsmen (11-4, 5-1) on pace with Prairie for first place in the 3A Greater St. Helens League.

Freshman Kimora Ross made a game-tying free throw with 14 seconds left to force overtime, and after two lead changes in the four-minute extra period, sophomore Adrian Wright grabbed a steal in the backcourt and drilled a go-ahead jumper with 40 seconds left.

“It’s really just an honor to be here and make history here,” said Wright, who led Evergreen with 20 points. “Evergreen (hasn’t had) the best record, as you can see, but I just like that we’re the team that’s making history. Yeah, obviously we knew Heritage was going to be tough and this was a matchup that a lot of people were waiting for, but I’m glad that me and my team pulled through.”

“It’s been a long time since Evergreen has won something,” Ross added, “and we just want to make a statement that Evergreen is not what everybody makes it to seem like. We’re trying to change the culture around here and build something up for girls basketball and beyond.”

A lot of new faces joined the Plainsmen this season with the addition of several transfers including Wright, Aiyanah Sefronio-Byrd, and Lavalerie Lindsey, a freshmen class of three led by Ross and first-year head coach Charles Neal.

Evergreen had some growing pains in the first month of the season, but the team has consistently prevailed at the most important moments in 3A GSHL games.

That was the case Friday against Heritage (10-6, 2-3), a team Evergreen defeated 64-55 on the Timberwolves’ home floor Dec. 9.

The rematch was even tighter with neither team leading by more than six points.

Late in the third quarter, Evergreen was in good position to extend its lead after Heritage leading scorer Keanna Salavea checked out of the game upon picking up her fourth foul and Victoria Males exited for a few minutes with an injury.

The Plainsmen held the Timberwolves without a field goal for 5 1/2 minutes of game time, but lost the lead after Salavea hit a 3-pointer with less than five minutes in the fourth.

“Credit to our bench, they stepped up on defense,” Heritage coach Jacob Kaler said. “It was kind of a back and forth, stalled game until I got my girls back in. … It was good to see, but we needed that for 32 minutes.”

Evergreen trailed 49-48 through much of the final two minutes and watched as two 3-point attempts rolled around the rim and out.

But after Heritage came up empty on each of its next two possessions, Ross was fouled on a shot attempt with 14 seconds left. The freshman knocked down her second free throw to tie the game, and Heritage missed two close-range shots to send the game to overtime.

“We just had to keep our heads in the game the whole time, not fall down,” said Ross, who added 16 points for Evergreen. “We played really hard. Heritage was a really good team and they played hard too.”

The Timberwolves scored first in overtime on Salavea’s putback before baskets from Wright and Ross put the Plainsmen ahead. A Salavea layup forced another tie with 1:07 left.

Evergreen failed to score on its next possession, but after Heritage grabbed a rebound, an errant outlet pass found its way to Wright, who pulled up for a jumper from the free-throw line extended. It turned out to be the game-winner for the Plainsmen.

“We know the pressure’s going to come … we know that we have to be aggressive,” Wright said. “I’m glad that we were able to hold it together for a big win like this. I’m just excited to continue the season and, hopefully, win league this year.”

Evergreen’s balanced scoring attack was led by Wright’s 20 points, with Ross chipping in 16 and Aiyanah Sefronio-Byrd 13.

Mariah Bibens led Heritage with 17 points, Salavea scored 15 and Males added 12.

EVERGREEN 55, HERITAGE 54 (OT)

HERITAGE — Victoria Males 12, Aliyah Bibens 0, Mariah Bibens 17, Jordis Taylor 4, Jaila Ellis 0, Keanna Salavea 15, Kylee Wolf 4, Braidee Goodwin 2. Totals 23 (4) 4-14 54.

EVERGREEN — Lavalerie Lindsey 2, Modesta Rivera 4, Kimora Ross 16, Christina Nguyen 0, Leigh Ann Herboth 0, Aiyanah Sefronio-Byrd 13, Adrian Wright 20. Totals 20 (6) 9-21 55.

Heritage 12 15 11 11 5—54

Evergreen 16 12 15 6 6—55

JV — Evergreen 43-31

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