By: Joe Blystone
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
METAMORA (December 14, 2023) – Just 1:14 into the game and down 4-0 against Ottawa Hills, a less than pleased Evergreen coach Jerry Keifer called timeout.
The stern message delivered to his Vikings came across loud and very clear as it took just 36 seconds and three possessions for Evergreen to take a lead that grew like a snowball rolling downhill on their way to a 70-27 romp over Ottawa Hills. The Vikes now stand at 3-1 on the season.
“It all started with defense and ended with defense,” Keifer said after. “I think after the timeout we were more focused on what we were doing and we got some easy baskets to get us going.”
“Everyone contributed, every kid who came off the bench in the first half made a big play to help extend the score,” the veteran Viking coach explained as Evergreen put nine players on the court in the first half.
One of those was Ryder Hudik who didn’t score on the night but speared six rebounds and had a steal in his minutes off the bench.
Baskets by Chase Miller and Jackson Snyder gave the (1-1) Green Bears that early advantage.
But in the next 36 ticks, Tyson Woodring found Drew Gillen for a layup Eli Keifer turned two steals into transition hoops to give Evergreen a 6-4 lead that kept growing through the first quarter as the Vikings went on a 17-0 run.
Gillen scored again on a Blade Walker feed, then Walker buried a left wing triple, Riley Dunbar got inside twice for hoops and Walker finished the salvo with 2/2 from the stripe before Gabe Grimm stopped the run 23 seconds before the end of the quarter.
Miller’s basket, then three-point play got the Green Bears to within 19-11 but that would be as close as the game got the rest of the night.
Woodring found Gillen after a steal then Keifer bagged a threesome of triples to balloon the lead to 37-17 at the half.
Keifer’s 11 third quarter points along with five more from Gillen and Hunter Vaculik’s buzzer beating triple in a 24-4 quarter put Evergreen up 61-21 heading into the fourth.
The three-point barrage wasn’t quite over as Jesse Spradlin and Wil Ruetz hit three more long range bombs combined during the running clock final stanza.
“We shot the ball well and moving forward it again all starts on the defensive end,” Keifer stated.
In all, Evergreen canned 9/14 from outside the arc on the night, and shot 65 percent from the field.
The Vikings forced Ottawa Hills into an uncharacteristic 21 turnovers and had 12 steals.
Keifer scored 28 points, taking just 12 shots from the floor. Gillen added 13 with seven rebounds and Dunbar had 10.