Evarts looks back on Bears’ accomplishments

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

District title. Check.
League championship. Check.
The best season in program history. Check.
It was expected that Gibsonburg would be good this season, but that doesn’t diminish what the Lady Bears accomplished.
Bo Evarts’ crew can reflect on a litany of accomplishments, most notably the 49-41 victory over Toledo Christian — who was the Division IV state runner-up last season — in a district final, which was preceded by a 37-35 win over rival Lakota in the district semifinal.
In the victory over the Eagles, 5-8 freshman point guard Elly Evarts scored 31 points and 5-9 post Jaz Morant and 5-10 post Leah Hall, who grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots, finished with six points apiece.
Gibsonburg took the lead midway through the third quarter and never relinquished it.
“Elly and a couple of seniors making stops was the key. TC was a game we’d been waiting for. They’d been to regionals four straight years. We thought we had a better overall team, and we knew they had some great players, too. Kendall Braden is going to do her thing, but Reghan Markley is the second-best player, and if you can limit her, the Otsego coach told us, you can beat them. Jaz Morant played great defense on Kendall,” said Bo Evarts. “It would’ve been a tough way to lose if we fell to Lakota or Toledo Christian.
“The TC win was a turning point (for our program). The tide’s turning. It was a confidence thing going in there thinking we could win.”
Defeating the Raiders was a little more difficult for the Bears.
The defensive struggle saw Gibsonburg score 17 points in the fourth quarter as it rallied to win the game. Elly Evarts had 17 points and Emma Jividen chipped in with six to help pace the Bears.
We knew Lakota was going to be tough; we’ve had so many close games against them. They play great defense and have a girl that can limit Elly,” said Bo Evarts. “We knew it would be a battle – one of our reserves, Emma Jividen, hit two huge 3-pointers. I don’t think we win that game without her.”
Gibsonburg’s season ended in a 53-44 loss to Columbus Grove, but it can’t put a damper on the Bears winning its second league title in program history — the first was a share of the Suburban Lakes League championship with Woodmore in 1977 — going 23-3 and claiming its first district title.
Gibsonburg lost just one game in Sandusky Bay Conference River Division play, falling to Danbury, which won a district championship.
The other two losses for the Bears came against Bellevue, which also won a district title, and Columbus Grove in the regional semifinals. Last season, six of Gibsonburg’s seven losses came to teams with at least 20 wins.
Elly Evarts led the team and the River Division with a scoring average of 22.2 points, followed by Morant (9.2), Hall (7.4), Sophia Paul (5.2) and Ansley Fleming (4.2). Morant was first on the team with 7.1 rebounds, followed by Hall (6.5) and Evarts (6.2). Evarts also led the team in assists (3.5) and steals (4.3).
The starting lineup consisted of six players filling in the five spots. There were three guards, Paul (5-3), Fleming (5-4) and Evarts, and three forwards, Morant, Hall and Sam Deininger (5-10).
Alayna Molter, Harley Gamble, Taylor Rapp, Macey Kohler and Emily Henderson also saw action this season.
Elly Evarts made 87 3-pointers this season, which is believed to be the second-most in the state. But she loves seeing her teammates succeed, too, she said. Evarts was at or near the top in the River Division in several categories.
“Elly’s favorite thing is when she passes to a teammate and they score,” Bo Evarts said. “I think she was second or third in assists (in the conference). Scoring comes naturally to her, but she led the team in points, blocks, assists and steals. She makes her teammates better.”
It was quite a ride for the three seniors — Morant, Paul and Gamble.
“This year’s seniors won a school record with 23 wins and had 17 wins last year. Sophia, Harley and Jaz played since they were freshmen,” Bo Evarts said. “They bought in, and in that second year, things started clicking towards the end of the season. They were great leaders; they welcomed the new girls, a freshmen and two sophomores, (even though) they took some playing time away from them.
“They all had their roles and played it perfectly, and that’s why we had success,” he said.
As you might expect, a community like Gibsonburg that supports its athletes was there for the great moments.
“The community support was great,” said Bo Evarts. “We had decent crowds in the beginning, and then more people started watching us,” he said. “Then both sides would have huge crowds, and it was great to see the community. Gibsonburg rallies around its teams. It’s great to see where it is, and it’s been a fun ride.”
Bo Evarts has high hopes for the future.
“In our minds, we’re going to be pretty good for a while. We'll lose three seniors, and they’ll be tough to replace, but we had freshmen and sophomores playing against them (in practice),” he said. “Our JV team was competing against the varsity, and our eighth-grade team was runner-up in the league. Our goal is to keep rolling — it’s going to be tough to replace the seniors, but we know we have a nice core. We should be good. Our goal is to keep going and continue the process.”


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