Defense and 3-pointers propel No. 9 D’Evelyn girls hoops to win

DENVER — Don’t be fooled … D’Evelyn’s girls basketball team is still going to put up its share of 3-pointers each game.

D’Evelyn, ranked No. 9 in the current CHSAANow.com Class 4A girls basketball poll, made seven 3-pointers against Heritage as the Jaguars opened up the 10-team Jeffco Jungle Jam Tournament with a 39-27 victory. However, the Jaguars showed Wednesday night they don’t mind playing some conventional defense too.

D'Evelyn senior Kylee Fridgen, left, applies defensive pressure on Heritage junior Kyan Jost (0) on Wednesday night. The Jaguars held Heritage to nine field goals in D'Evelyn's 39-27 victory. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

A difference from what longtime D’Evelyn coach Chris Olson has run in the past was it wasn’t an up-and-down track meet from start to finish. The Jaguars hit a number of 3-pointers in a half-court game and played a solid half-court defense limiting the Eagles to just nine made field goals.

“This is a bit of a different kind of score at home then we are used to,” Olson said of the low scoring game. “We’ll play a little bit differently this year, but I think it suits our girls well.”

The Jaguars (3-1 record) did use some full-court pressure defense, but not as much teams are used to see from D’Evelyn.

“I think we’ve found our identity early in the season,” Olson said. “We are a good man-to-man and not as gimmicky on defense with blitzing, running and just going crazy.”

Heritage (0-6) actually led 6-3 midway through the first quarter before the 3-pointers started to fall for D’Evelyn. The Jaguars went on a 15-0 run while holding the Eagles scoreless for more than six minutes from the end of the first quarter until a few minutes into the second quarter.

D'Evelyn senior Kieran Olson lines up a 3-pointer Wednesday night against Heritage. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

D’Evelyn grabbed a 18-6 lead with senior Izzy Lopez pouring in a pair of 3-pointers to end the first quarter and senior Kylee Fridgen scoring seven straight points during the run.

“We came out with the mindset that we had to play our game and not theirs,” said Fridgen, who scored all dozen of her points in the first half. “It worked out.”

Lopez also finished with a dozen points. The senior guard drained four 3-pointers to lead the way from long distance for the Jaguars.

D’Evelyn scored just 14 points in the second half, but it was enough as Heritage was held to single-digit points in three of the four quarters. The Eagles’ leading scorer was junior Kyan Jost with nine points.

The Jaguars are now on a three-game winning streak after losing their season opener against Rocky Mountain.

“A lot of this is building for the second half of the season,” Olson said of his goal during the tournament after playing a lot of players while still not completely healthy. “It’s about building confidence and depth in our bench.”

D'Evelyn junior Sydney Volheim (2) shows her ball handling skills while being guarded by Heritage senior Kylie Stephens (12). (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

D’Evelyn finishes up the tournament that it co-hosts with Littleton on Friday and Saturday. The Jaguars face Battle Mountain at 7 p.m. Friday and finishes up the tournament against Regis Groff. Both games will be at D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.

“We have the motto — Five players, one heartbeat,” Fridgen said. “Five players on the court and we have to play as one. We are getting there.”

One person who might be assigned a different job moving forward this season is Fridgen’s father. The three games played at D’Evelyn on the first day of the tournament were delayed by about 30 minutes after some burnt popcorn in the concession stand set off a smoke alarm. The school to be evacuated and West Metro Fire & Rescue came check to make sure everything was OK before games could get underway.

“Yes. The guy who delayed all the games, that was my father,” Fridgen could say with a smile after the late night finally wrapped up a little after 9 p.m.

D'Evelyn sophomore Lexi Szathmary (22) battles with Heritage junior Kyan Jost and senior Emma Wekesser (4) for a loose ball Wednesday night at D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School during the opening night of the Jeffco Jungle Jam Tournament. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)