Harassment. Means to put aggressive pressure on someone.
Evergreen did just that, forcing Bryan into a woeful 28 percent from the field and got their biggest stop when Savannah VanOstrand blocked Kennedy Lamberson’s possible game-tying shot with less than five seconds left to give Evergreen a 37-35 upset win over one of the NWOAL pre-season favorites on opening night of the league’s girls basketball season Friday.
“We knew Bryan was a really good team and (Bear coach) Todd Grosjean I respect a lot. He was coaching when I was a player and I knew they would hit open shots,” Viking coach Brittaney Cymbolin said. “What we wanted to do was use our speed and length to get after them on the perimeter a little more and it really gave them a hard time getting good looks.”
After the visiting Golden Bears took a quick 5-0 lead behind Kayla Arnold’s triple and Lamberson’s fastbreak hoop in the first minute, the Vikings clamped down.
While the Bears were going over four minutes without scoring, Kelsie Komisarek drilled back-to-back bombs from the right corner to boost the Vikes on top 9-7 with 55 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Komisarek’s steal and feed on the inbounds to VanOstrand doubled up the lead, before McKendry Semer’s stickback of a miss cut the Viking margin in half, 11-9, at the horn.
That bucket sparked a Bryan run that included another Arnold three-ball and Lamberson’s baseline jumper that put the Bears up 18-14 with 2:37 left in the half. However, again the Vikings’ confounding defense didn’t allow another Bryan field goal the rest of the half.
During that time, Abi Borojevich hit a pair of left-handed moves from in close, VanOstrand scored on a baby hook and Borojevich fed Naomi Brand for a layup at the buzzer to put Evergreen back up, 22-20.
After both teams were stone cold, 3 for 24 combined to be exact in the third and the Evergreen lead remained at a deuce, Lamberson’s spin move at the 7:15 mark of the fourth knotted the score at 27.
Again the Viking defense forced the issue, and while Evergreen pressured the perimeter and didn’t allow open looks, Borojevich broke the tie with another left-handed push, Naomi Brand scored off a putback and VanOstrand nailed a long three-pointer to give the Vikes a 34-27 lead.
“The difference there was our patience on offense,” Cymbolin explained. “We did a great job taking better shots as far as selection. Hats off to (Viking sophomore point guard) Mady Peluso. Mady handled the ball pressure, pushed the ball when we needed, I let her call plays all night, I think I only called two all night and I think she did a great job getting us what we wanted.”
However, the normally adept free-throw shooters in Peluso and Komisarek went just 1 for 5 down the stretch and Bryan took advantage as Lamberson hit a pair of triples around a McKenna Grube bucket inside to tie the game with 1:08 on the clock.
It only took 10 seconds for VanOstrand to find Nicole Brand by herself inside for the Vikings go-ahead basket.
“You know I love all my kids but I can’t say how much Nicole and Naomi mean to us,” chortled Cymbolin. “They give me everything day in and day out. And just like at the end of the game, they are going to step up and make a play and do their best. That’s all I ask is they do their best and tonight they were their best.”
Bryan had one chance outside that went awry but when the rebound went out of bounds off an Evergreen player, the Bears had one last shot.
With Nicole Brand flying at Lamberson, the Bears’ senior pumped faked and got inside the three-point line for a look just above the foul line but VanOstrand flew in to tip the shot away and Borojevich scooped up the loose ball to run out the last three seconds.
“I was so happy for her,” Cymbolin said of VanOstrand’s game-winning play. “She works so hard for us. She is just a great leader as far as intensity and it was great to see her make that kind of game-winning play.”
The Vikings defense forced the Bears into just 13 for 47 from the floor and 15 turnovers.
Evergreen committed 14 turnovers and was 15 for 43 from the field.
Lamberson led all scorers with 16 for the Bears, now 0-1 in the league. VanOstrand had 13 and Borojevich 11 for Evergreen, as they opened NWOAL play with the win and went to 3-7 overall.
Evergreen is on the road for their next league contest, this Friday when they visit Liberty Center.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com