EVERGREEN — While Evergreen honored senior girls basketball player Claudia Dillon during a late timeout for surpassing 1,500 career points Tuesday night, Erie coach Sarah Pfeifer framed the bigger picture with a season all but over.
She explained to her team: "This is exposing some things that we need to work on over the summer. And we're going to bear down and work on those and come back even stronger."
With eight of its 12 players on the postseason roster being underclassmen, No. 21 Erie clawed back from an early deficit but faltered late in a 46-32 loss at No. 5 Evergreen.
Freshman Grace Moyers led the way with 14 points, including nine in a matter of minutes that sprung a sudden comeback in the opening half. Sophomore Sami Erbe added five and fellow-classmate Anna Hefner had four.
Trailing 15-2 in the second quarter — against the two-time defending champions, no less — the Tigers hit back.
Erbe and Moyers drained successive 3s to kick off a fiery, 18-5 run that tied things. During the spurt, Moyers had two 3s and an acrobatic three-point play and Hefner rattled in a putback at the buzzer to make it 20-all and send a reenergized team into the locker room.
In the third, Alyssa Barnett's bucket gave the Tigers (16-10) their first and only lead of the night at 25-24. The Cougars (20-5) responded with a 10-0 run and pulled away thanks in part to the Dillon sisters' 26 combined points.
"They always (fight)," Pfeifer said of her team.
In fact, just last week, the Tigers proved they could go pound-for-pound with one of the state's best teams after rallying from a first quarter deficit to beat No. 12 seed D'Evelyn in the round of 32. They were the lowest seed among the final 16 teams.
"Coaches from all around the conference and the region have reached out to me since we beat D'Evelyn," Pfeifer said. "And I told them in (the locker room), I said, 'guys, this is you. It's not me. It's your heart. It's your effort. It's your willingness to do what we ask you to do every day and every night that got you here. You earned it.'"
After the game, both Moyers and Pfeifer expressed admiration for the team's two departing seniors, Kaitlyn Patterson and Lauren Kia. They explained how their leadership was instrumental in helping guide a team from a 6-18 record to a trip to high school basketball's version of the Sweet 16 in a single year.
For now, endings are hard.
"We're so excited by what we accomplished this year and the impression we made," Moyers said. "And we can't wait for next year."
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @brentwnew
Evergreen 46, Erie 32
At Evergreen HS
Chambers 0 0-0 0, Patterson 1 0-0 2, Moyers 5 1-1 14, Berringer 0 0-0 0, Erbe 2 0-2 5, Barnett 1 0-1 2, Altshuler 0 0-0 0, Hill 0 0-0 0, Morrow 1 0-0 2, Welty 0 0-0 0, Kia 1 1-3 3, Hefner 2 0-0 4. Team 13 2-7 32.
Levine 5 2-5 12, Baumgardt 1 0-0 2, Gibson 0 0-1 0, S. Stewart 1 0-2 2, van der Zee 0 0-0 0, Cimler 2 0-0 4, Leinen 0 0-0 0, M. Stewart 0 0-0 0, H. Dillon 5 3-8 13, C. Dillon 3 7-10 13, Boudreaux 0 0-0 0. Team 17 12-26 46.
Score by quarters:Erie 2 18 5 7 — 32
3-point field goals — Erie (4): Moyers 3, Erbe; Evergreen (0). Total fouls — Erie 18; Evergreen 12. Fouled out — Patterson. Technical fouls — No technical fouls.