LAKEWOOD — It won’t be remembered as the most stylistic victory during the tenure for Evergreen’s first-year boys basketball coach Jeff Dolan, but it will go down as his first win leading the Cougars.
“It was great to get Coach Dolan his first win here at Evergreen,” said Evergreen senior Tyler Green who led the way with a game-high 19 points in a 57-40 victory Thursday night over Adams City. “It was a rough win, but a win is a win and we’ll take it.”
The victory came in the opening round of the Paul Davis Classic hosted by Green Mountain High School. The Cougars won the tournament last year on their run to a 19-6 record. However, Evergreen looks very different from top to bottom this year.
Scott Haebe was the Cougars’ head coach for two and a half decades, but he left the boys basketball coaching job at Evergreen and is now heading up the boys basketball program at Clear Creek High School. Dolan — Conifer High School graduate who spent time as a college assistant coach and high school coach in New Mexico — was named the Haebe’s replacement last spring.
“I always respected Scott (Haebe) he always does a great job. All the kids really know how to play,” Dolan said. “Evergreen is a basketball school so there is definitely pressure. I think I have the pieces and the coaching staff to relieve that pressure.”
Evergreen (1-1 record) got off to a rocky start Thursday, but a 12-0 run over a span of three minutes midway through the first quarter allowed the Cougars to get some distance from the Eagles. Still, Evergreen struggled with its shooting and missed 13 free throws on the night.
“It’s a good thing to get that off my shoulders,” Dolan said his first career coaching victory at Evergreen. “Hopefully it also gets out of the way a slump game too. I haven’t seen our guys play like that all year.”
Sophomores Griffin Lauritano (11 points) and Jackson Mott (10 points) both pitched in double-digit points to help out Green in the scoring department. Green finished making nine straight free throws after missing his first two of the game from the charity stripe.
“It’s going to come with time,” Green said of Evergreen struggling from the field. “We are very inexperienced. I think over time the rest of the team will start hitting more shots. They’ll start falling for us.”
The victory put Evergreen into the semifinals where the Cougars face Greeley West at 6:30 p.m. Friday night back at Green Mountain High School. Greeley West (3-0) defeated Battle Mountain 20 points in the first of four games Thursday at Green Mountain High School.
“It’s a new system too, so we are a little uncomfortable. I think we’ll get it going,” Dolan said. “We better figure it out pretty fast because Greeley West has some pretty good players.”
Adams City (0-5) is on a 17-game losing streak dating back to last season when the Eagles lost their final dozen games to finish with a 4-19 record. Senior Raymond Negrete led the Eagles with 14 points.
“A lot of credit to Adams City,” said Green about Adams City cutting the Cougars’ lead to single-digits in the fourth quarter before Evergreen was able to pullaway. “They really compete.”
Despite graduating its top five leading scorers, including Bridger Tenney and Chase Rogers who were key to Evergreen’s success for the last couple of years, Green believes the Cougars have a shot at the coveted Class 4A Jeffco League title.
“I think it’s up for grabs, but at the same time you can’t overlook anyone,” Green said of the 4A Jeffco League. “We have to improve in order to get the title for us. It is very reachable for us.”