Columbia County’s high school basketball teams started the week in preparations for the Region 2-AAAAA Tournament. Teams from our side of the region were squaring off with teams from Region 2B-AAAAA. Of course, in tournament basketball anything can happen. So I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Evans High School on its tremendous showing throughout subregion play this season.
On the boys’ side this should come as no surprise, but for the Lady Knights, the story is different. Some Evans’ fans probably think second-year head coach Ryan Morningstar is a miracle worker. Last season he took over a program that had won just 14 games in seven long years.
He immediately began to get the squad on track. Last year, a much more competitive team took the floor for the Lady Knights, as they finished 11-15. This year’s team is even better. It has gone from perennial doormats to subregion champs.
With a pair of wins last week over Lakeside (56-46) and Grovetown (51-36), the Lady Knights ran their winning streak to five games and finished the regular season 16-7. Those 16 wins were more than they won in the seven years before Morningstar took over. More importantly, Evans also sealed the subregion crown with an impressive 8-1 mark.
The remarkable resurgence of the Evans girls’ program has been spearheaded by the dynamic duo of Jasmine Stone and Allysha McFarland.
Stone, a 5-8 junior, leads the county in scoring this season at 18.7 points per game. She also averages 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game and is among area leaders with 43 three-pointers. McFarland, the Knights 5-4 senior point guard, has been as good as any floor general in the area. She pours in 15.7 points per game but also averages 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds. McFarland leads the team in steals with 2.7 swipes per game. Sophomore Ellyssa Melton has played well inside for Evans. Although only 5-6, she leads the team with 7.9 boards per game.
For the boys team success is now expected, after nearly a decade of averaging 20 wins per season under head coach Kevin Kenny. Like the girl’s team, the Knights picked up wins over Lakeside (58-55) and Grovetown (72-60) last week. And, like the girls team, it kept a winning streak alive. The Knights headed into the region tourney with seven consecutive wins, winning 16 of their last 17, since starting the year 5-3. That brought Evans’ record to 21-4 on the season, with a perfect 9-0 mark in the subregion.
Like the Lady Knights, the boys have an outstanding leader at point guard. Junior Damian Foreman runs the show for the boys squad. He is averaging 14.5 points per game, but that stat only scratches the surface of what he does for this team. Foreman is among area leaders in assists (5.7) and steals (3.1) and has the ball in his hands as much as any player in the area.
If Foreman is “Mr. Outside,” then Jacob Buchanan is “Mr. Inside.” He is averaging 12.3 points per game and he hauls in 8.6 rebounds per game.
Congratulations to Evans on an impressive combined record of 17-1 versus their county foes in Region 2A-AAAAA.