BATTLE GROUND — Evergreen (Vancouver) started hot, played fast and, in the end, staved off a big night from Gonzaga commit Kaden Perry to hand Battle Ground its second consecutive loss, 59-51, and remain undefeated through five games.
Perry posted 28 points and 17 rebounds on Monday at Battle Ground High School, many coming in the second half as the Tigers erased a 21-point lead to pull within four points late.
But Evergreen held on, thanks to hot early shooting from Carter Monda and 7 of 8 free throw shooting as a team in the final minute.
Here are three observations:
WIN PROVES TO EVERGREEN IT CAN PLAY TOGETHER — AND IS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
There’s something brewing at Evergreen High School.
A year ago, the Plainsmen, who went 8-12 last year, gave up 92 points and lost by 35 to Battle Ground. This time, they flipped the script.
Sure, head coach Brett Henry acknowledged that wins don’t matter as much as hitting specific team goals at this early juncture of the season, but sitting at 5-0 and hitting goals?
He’ll take it. So will the players, who are clicking better than they did perhaps all of last season.
Coming off of a football season in which the program — many of the same players now on the hardwood — posted its best record since 2008 and made the playoffs, Evergreen feels there is an opening for it atop the 3A Greater St. Helens League. Kelso must replace 3A player of the year Shaw Anderson Prairie is down former league MVP Kam Osborn.
“It’s open for anyone to take,” Henry said. “It could be anyone. I’m excited about that.”
It’s beat four of the five 4A Greater St. Helens League teams to show for it (and it plays undefeated Union on Wednesday).
The Plainsmen boast sharpshooting in 6-4 shooting guard Monda, who had 13 points Monday, Jaden Stanley (seven points) and Isaac Romero (nine points).
Tasked with taming Perry was uber-athletic 6-2 swingman Zyell Griffin and 6-6 forward Mario Herring.
“We have that winning mentality,” Griffin said.
PLAINSMEN CHALLENGED BATTLE GROUND’S SHOOOTERS TO BEAT THEM. AND THREW ATHLETES AT PERRY.
When Battle Ground is at its best, its two senior guard Nate Millspaugh and Brendan Beall are making defenses pay for any extra attention to Perry.
Led by stellar on-ball defense from 6-1 senior Type Ricketts, Evergreen sought to stifle the sharpshooting guards.
“Our primary goal was to take out those two guards, and with the other guys, surround (Perry),” Henry said. “Hopefully slow him down a little bit. … We just wanted to make it really difficult.”
Griffin, who is seven inches shorter than Perry, made entry passes difficult and fought on the boards, as did the taller Herring. The Plainsmen ended up crashing double and triple teams on Perry.
It worked for much of the first half, as Perry and the Tigers struggled to get much going on offense. But in the second half, Perry could not be denied, many of his points down the stretch coming off of his own offensive boards.
PERRY SAYS FIRST YEAR ON NIKE EYBL CIRCUIT, COMMITTING DID WONDERS FOR CONFIDENCE
You’re seeing a calmer, more confident Kaden Perry this season.
Perry, a junior, committed to Gonzaga in June and proceeded to play in the Nike Elite Youth basketball AAU circuit, a hotbed of the nation’s top recruits, for the first time.
“My confidence just got better,” Perry said, “and confidence alone has made me a better player.”
Perry has had several 25-plus point games so far this season, and feels he’s playing with more ferocity and authority.
“Just being athletic, not being afraid,” Perry said, “I used to always be afraid of trying to not look stupid . It’s like, hey, if it gets me a bucket, or it gets me a stop, it doesn’t matter how it looks.”