Evansville High’s girls basketball team moved one step closer to a Rock Valley Conference championship Thursday night.
Paige Banks scored 25 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 42-26 victory over Brodhead.
Evansville improved to 14-4 overall and to 12-1 in the Rock Valley.
Coupled with second-place Clinton’s loss to Jefferson on Thursday, Evansville now has a three-game lead with four games to play.
Banks and a stellar defense were the story for the Blue Devils against the Cardinals.
Brodhead (12-6, 8-6) missed 22 of 23 shots in the first half and trailed 25-8. Banks had 16 of her game-high 25 points in the first 18 minutes.
Banks said playing before the hometown crowd on Senior Night was extra motivation.
“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade,” Banks said of her and the other six seniors on the team. “And the more we’ve played together, the more cohesive we’ve gotten.
“Tonight, you could see that our defense definitely spurs our offense, and that’s what happened the first half. We got a lot of turnovers with our defense, which led to some transition baskets.”
Brodhead scored the first point of the game on Abbie Dix’s free throw, but it was all Evansville after that.
The Blue Devils went on a 14-1 run to open up a 14-2 lead.
Brodhead countered with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to six, but the Evansville answered with 11 straight points to end the half.
The Cardinals’ first made basket came on a Dix turnaround jumper with 4:12 remaining. Brodhead had missed its previous 17 shots.
“It wasn’t because of lack of effort, but this was one of those nights where if we were standing by the ocean, we’d miss it,” Brodhead coach Brian Kammerer said. “I thought our gameplan coming in was good, but when you dig yourself a hole like we did, it’s tough to crawl out of.
“Usually when you give up only 42 points, it puts you in a position to win. But with the way we shot the ball tonight, that wasn’t the case.”
Evansville stretched the lead to 20 early in the second half as Banks hit a 3-pointer to make it 34-14 with 14:01 left.
Brodhead made a mini-run to cut the deficit to 13, but a Josey Rinehart basket and two Banks free throws stretched the lead back to 17 with 8:10 left.
Kiarra Moe scored 10 points to lead Brodhead. Dix, who came in third in conference in scoring at 16.3 points a game, was held to seven.
Evansville can clinch at east a share of the Rock title Tuesday at Edgerton.
EVANSVILLE 42, BRODHEAD 26
Brodhead (26)—Kail 1-2-4; Oliver 1-2-5; Moe 2-5-10; Dix 2-3-7. Totals: 6-12-26
Evansville (42)—Rinehart 2-0-4; Sendelbach 2-0-4; Banks 10-3-25; Hinkle 1-0-2; Eftemoff 2-0-4; Acker 1-0-3. Totals: 18-3-42
Brodhead 8 18—26
Evansville 25 17—42
3-point goals—Brodhead 2 (Oliver, Moe), Evansville 3 (Banks 2, Acker). Free throws missed—Brodhead 8, Evansville 1. Total fouls—Brodhead 12, Evansville 17. Fouled out—Banks