LAKEWOOD — It isn’t exactly a house of horrors, but Evergreen’s girls basketball team remembers its conference loss at Green Mountain a year ago.
“That was definitely something on our mind, especially when it was a 3-point game,” Evergreen sophomore Claudia Dillon said after Monday night's league game. “It was kind of nerve-wracking. This couldn’t happen again. History can’t repeat itself. That was terrible last year.”
The Rams defeated the Cougars last year on a last-second buzzer-beater. Green Mountain was in position to score another monster upset in the Class 4A Jeffco League. However, Evergreen rallied from a 5-point deficit in the fourth quarter to escape with a victory.
“I’ve actually never won here before,” said Evergreen coach Amy Bahl who is now 1-4 against Green Mountain on the Rams’ home court. “We finally broke that.”
The Cougars (15-1, 7-1 in 4A Jeffco), No. 2 in the latest CHSAANow.com girls hoops rankings, made sure they wouldn’t suffer the same fate last year’s squad endured. Evergreen took a 43-40 win over a dangerous Rams (7-10, 3-5) that already has a home win over No. 5 Golden.
Evergreen outscored Green Mountain 13-5 in the final eight minutes, but the Rams still had a half-court shot at the buzzer that was just off the mark. If made, the game would have went into overtime.
“Our team played hard and with a lot of heart tonight,” Green Mountain coach Rudy Martin said. “When you are playing a good team with some height you’ve got to make more shots.”
Evergreen’s 6-foot-2 sophomore Claudia Dillon (15 points) had a strong fourth quarter on both ends of the court with a handful of rebounds and blocks on the defensive end. Junior Baylee Galan-Browne also had a strong final quarter pouring in six of her 11 points.
“That was a huge momentum boost for us,” Bahl said of Galan-Browne’s 3-point play with a little more than two minutes to play. “That and-one was a big play.”
Galen-Browne’s 3-point play pushed the Cougars’ lead to 42-37, but Green Mountain junior Brecon Antrillo hit a 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds to play to cut Evergreen’s lead to 43-40.
Evergreen had chances to ice the game at the free-throw line, but struggled going 6-for-18 on the night. A pair of missed free throws in the final seconds allow the Rams one last heave to send the game into overtime.
“I basically told the girls that a win is a win and we’ll take it,” Bahl said. “They never gave up. They fought hard and we were able to come away with the win.”
Evergreen and Golden have separated from the rest of the conference with six league games remaining. The two share a two-game lead in the league that not only features three ranked teams, but also the two-time defending 4A champion Valor Christian that slipped out of the top-10 a couple of weeks ago.
“It puts us still in the hunt,” Bahl said of the league title. “We’ve got four games this week, so we just have to take care of business.”
The Cougars and Demons have their rematch scheduled for Feb. 14 at Golden. That showdown could determine the league champion.
Still, Evergreen has some work to do before getting a shot at Golden that handed the Cougars their lone loss so far this season 43-41 on Jan. 20. Evergreen hosts Littleton (12-5, 5-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Green Mountain travels to Standley Lake (7-10, 2-6) on Wednesday.
“It was a tough loss,” Martin said. “This group is resilient. They have kind of figured it out the last two weeks that we are focusing on getting better, not just getting the win.”