WESTMINSTER — Evergreen’s girls basketball team knocked off the lone remaining undefeated Class 5A team in the state Friday night.

The Cougars snagged a 32-28 road victory over Standley Lake in a Class 5A/4A Jeffco League opener for both teams.

“We started league against arguably the best team in our league and the only team left undefeated in 5A,” Evergreen first-year coach Cub Buenning said. “Coming out and getting a win to start league play was everything to us. I’m super proud of the girls.”

Standley Lake (9-1, 0-1 in 5A/4A Jeffco League) and Evergreen (7-1, 1-0) were both in the top-6 of the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index prior to Friday night action. The Gators were the last remaining undefeated 5A girls team in the state. The No. 6 Cougars’ lone loss before Winter Break was a 41-26 home defeat to Pueblo West on Dec. 19.

“We came into this game expecting to win,” Evergreen junior Taylor Bailey said of knocking off the perviously undefeated Gators with a handful of Jeffco League coaches in attendance scouting the game.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

The game wasn’t a thing of beauty with a total of 60 points scored. Evergreen had a key 13-0 run in the second quarter to open up a 23-12 lead at halftime. However, the Cougars made just two field goals in the second half. Both 3-pointers from Bailey.

“Offensively, we aren’t a powerful team,” Coach Buenning admitted after the Cougars scored just nine points in the second half, but still managed to pull out the victory. “We pride ourselves on playing defense, rebounding and getting to the fourth quarter and finding away to pull it out.”

Bailey’s 3-pointer midway through the third quarter was the lone points for Evergreen in the third. Standley Lake was able to cut the Cougars’ lead to 26-20 going into the final quarter.

“I was happy when I was wide-open. That was ideal,” Bailey said of her 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Cougars a 29-24 lead. “I got lucky that I got open when we needed it.”

Standley Lake freshman Sydney Martin had six points in the final quarter that helped pull the Gators as close as 29-28 with 1:55 left in the game. However, Evergreen went 3-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minutes to hold off the comeback attempt by the Gators.

“It feels really good because in the end it was really scary and close,” Bailey said. “Most teams fold under that (situation). I’m glad we made a few free throws late. I’m really glad we pulled it out.”

The most impressive job Evergreen’s defense did was limiting Standley Lake senior Taylin Serlen to 10 points before she fouled out in the final minute. The Regis University signee came in averaging 23.4 points per game. Coach Buenning said the Cougars had developed their defense in the Fall that is really designed to limit players like the 6-foot-2 scoring post player like Serlen.

“She (Serlen) was averaging something like 23 points per game,” Bailey said. “I was happy we kept her to 10 points. That was really exciting for us. I think that is what got us the win.”

Evergreen sisters Tatum and Elle Buenning, along with junior Addison McEvers did a solid job on collapsing on Serlen when she got the ball inside. The three also combined for 17 points offensively.

Standley Lake continues conference play at Bear Creek on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Evergreen is fitting in a non-league game at Douglas County on Monday, Jan. 8, before a big league showdown then the Cougars host defending 5A/4A Jeffco League champion D’Evelyn on Jan. 10.