LAKEWOOD - Down the road, the Erie Tigers believe they have the right guys to hang with the best in their league. Maybe even enough to make some noise in March.
They're trying not to get ahead of themselves, though -- that's been a problem.
The Tigers saw their biggest lead of the game vanish quickly and then faltered in the fourth quarter on Thursday afternoon, losing to Evergreen 64-55 in the first round of the Paul Davis Classic at Green Mountain High School.
Jeffrey Farineau and Jadon Lucero each had 12 points for Erie, which gave up a nine-point lead in 1:41 of game time and was outscored 21-13 in the final quarter. Luke Loy added 11 points and Jordan Nguyen had nine off the bench.
"We need to learn how to finish out games," Farineau said. "It seems like every game we end up losing we're in it at one point and then we kind of get ahead of ourselves and let it go. We need to lock down games."
Chase Rogers led Evergreen with 22 points, including five 3s. The sharp-shooting senior swished from deep in the fourth and Bridger Tenney converted a 3-point play shortly after as part of a 12-2 run that put the Cougars up 55-46 with 3:40 remaining.
Erie cut the deficit to six in the waning minutes but would get no closer.
"My guys have a don't-give-up attitude and they kept fighting," Erie coach Scott Melin said. "I think they did a good job of it, but we had tired legs and not a lot of shots falling."
The Tigers fall to 1-1 on the season and will play in the consolation bracket of the tournament starting Friday.
In defeat, Erie left the court with its fair share of weaknesses in need of fixing. But there were plenty of positives too, Melin said.
"I don't think a lot of people know what we're capable of and the seniors we have," the coach said. "We got a lot of guys that want to compete and want to play with each other. We saw that today, in the first half especially.
"We got to sure up a couple things, but that's what this December is all about."
Erie hit on all cylinders for most of the opening half. It held Evergreen (2-1) scoreless for 5 minutes and 10 seconds, while Farineau and Nguyen each had five points as part of a 14-0 spurt to put the Tigers ahead 21-15 with 5:19 left in the second.
The lead grew to 33-24 on Ethyn Tyson's 3 with 1:07 left in the quarter, but Evergreen responded with the next nine points to even things at 33-all by the first minute of the third.
"That's just been our problem honestly for the past three years," Loy said. "We'll get up and then they go on a run and we have trouble fighting back. ... We're still working on it."
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Evergreen 64, Erie 55
At Green Mountain H.S.
Fox 2 0-0 4, Rogers 8 1-2 22, Patterson 3 0-0 6, Tenney 7 0-0 17, Brown 1 0-0 3, Miller 0 0-0 0, Bokelman 0 1-2 1, Aafedt 4 0-0 9, Green 0 2-4 2. Totals 25 4-8 64.
Larson 0 0-2 0, Humble 0 0-0 0, Tyson 2 2-2 7, K. Loy 2 0-0 4, Meier 0 0-0 0, Nguyen 3 2-3 9, L. Loy 4 2-2 11, Farineau 5 1-5 12, Lucero 5 0-0 12, Hinman 0 0-0 0, Yopp 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 7-14 55..
Score by quarters:Evergreen15131521—64
3-point field goals — Evergreen (8): Rogers 5, Tenney, Brown, Aafedt; Erie (6): Lucero 2, Tyson, Nguyen, L. Loy, Farineau.