LIVINGSTON — Senior guard Tanner Evenstad went off for a career-high 18 points and 13 of his Darlington teammates found a way into the scoring column as the visiting Redbirds turned in their best offensive showing of the season en route to a 92-51 SWAL victory over the Iowa-Grant Panthers at IGHS on Friday, Jan. 19.
“I was obviously very happy with our offensive output against Iowa-Grant. I think our defense created a lot of scoring for us; and, in the half-court, we did a much better moving the ball. The kids played with a lot of confidence, and we got great minutes from both our starters and our bench,” said Darlington head coach Tom Uppena.
Evenstad poured in 12 of his points in the opening half to lead the Redbirds (9-4 overall, 5-2 SWAL) out to a 46-17 halftime lead over the Panthers (3-9, 2-4). Junior Stryker Fitzsimons and freshman Carter Lancaster added nine points apiece for the ‘Birds in the first half, and each finished with 11 points.
Darlington kept its foot on the gas pedal in the second half, pouring in another 46 points in the second half to match the program’s top offensive output in more than a decade.
Junior Matthew Douglas connected on three 3-pointers in the second half to finish the night with a career-high 13 points. Juniors Carson Evenstad and Cade Murray each netted a career-best seven points, while junior Tucker Lange added seven points and senior Bailey McGuire scored six for the ‘Birds.
Isaac Hill hit four 3s on his way to a game-high 20 points for the Panthers. Michael Winders chipped in with 13 points.
At Darlington, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, Stryker Fitzsimons scored 18 of his career-high 23 points in the second half as the Redbirds knocked the Wildcats out of a first-place tie in the SWAL with a dominating 66-42 decision.
“Our defense set the tone and created a lot of turnovers. We gave up some easy layups, but overall we were able to control the game with our defense. Offensively, we were able to get them out of the zone early, and then we ran good offense in the half court against their man defense,” explained Coach Uppena.
The ‘Birds extended a 31-22 halftime lead out to 17 points early in the second, but the Wildcats (7-5, 3-3) fought back within 10 at 45-35 with 10 minutes remaining.
Darlington netted 10 unanswered points to extend the lead back out to 55-35, and then coasted in from there to hand the Wildcats their second straight SWAL loss.
Carter Lancaster scored 13 points for the Redbirds, while Tanner Evenstad tallied seven and Tucker Lange added six in the win.
Junior Shaun Cooper led Southwestern with eight points.
Fennimore currently leads the SWAL at 6-1. Mineral Point is a half-game back at 5-1, followed by the Redbirds at 5-2 and Cuba City at 4-2. The Wildcats lost again on Friday to slip into fifth a 3-3.
“To stay in the hunt for a SWAL title, we will have to get some big wins on the road. We still travel to Mineral Point and Fennimore– the two teams at the top. We will need to win out at home as well,” Uppena noted. “If we can do that, as well as get a good road win or two, I think we will be in the conversation. Things have improved for us offensively, and hopefully that growth continues. Defensively, we will do what we need to do stay in games, so continued growth on the offensive side of the ball will be important.”
Darlington has a pair of key upcoming games against SWAL frontrunners as they head to Mineral Point on Thursday, Jan. 25, and return home to host Cuba City on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
Darlington………. 46 46 – 92
Iowa-Grant……… 17 34 – 51
Darlington– Cole Roelli 2, Tanner Evenstad 18, Trae Schilling 2, Cade Murray 7, Tucker Lange 7, Carter Lancaster 11, Bryce Stone 3, Bailey McGuire 6, Carson Evenstad 7, Stryker Fitzsimons 11, Brogan Evenstad 1, Andrew Merriam 2, Matthew Douglas 13, Cayden Rankin 2. Totals – 38 10-15 92.
Iowa-Grant – Hill 20, Winders 13, Kuhls 7, Kohlenberg 3, Paradis 2, Kitelinger 6. Totals – 17 9-19 51.
3-point goals– D 6 (Murray 1, Lange 1, Stone 1, Douglas 3), IG 8 (Hill 4, Winders 1, Kuhls 1, Kitelinger 2). Total fouls– D 18, IG 13. Fouled out– none.
Southwestern…… 22 20 – 42
Darlington……….. 31 35 – 66
Southwestern – Schneider 5, Splinter 2, Wilson 2, Kephart 3, Jochum 7, Cooper 8, Rieken 5, Pergande 2, Reiff 2, Stangl 6. Totals – 17 2-6 42.
Darlington– Cole Roelli 2, Kameron Blosch 2, Tanner Evenstad 7, Tucker Lange 6, Carter Lancaster 13, Bryce Stone 2, Bailey McGuire 3, Stryker Fitzsimons 23, Tony Ruesga 5, Matthew Douglas 3. Totals – 27 8-14 66.
3-point goals– S 6 (Schneider 1, Kephart 1, Jochum 1, Rieken 1, Stangl 2), D 4 (Evenstad 1, McGuire 1, Ruesga 1, Douglas 1). Total fouls– S 12, D 12. Fouled out– none.