EVANSVILLE

Friday’s matchup between Evansville and Walworth Big Foot was billed as a battle between two Rock Valley Conference title contenders and two of the area’s top individual players.

Instead, the Blue Devils turned it into a rout. They forced 19 first-half turnovers, held the Chiefs to single digits in the first half and ran away with a 67-35 victory that they hope turns out to be a tone-setter heading into the second half of conference play.

“It was really fun and energetic and crazy,” Evansville junior Abby Eftemoff said of her team’s first-half, in which it held Big Foot without a basket for the final 14 minutes. “We just kept getting steals and making layups.”

Indeed, the Blue Devils (7-6 overall, 6-3 Rock Valley) made it look that easy for much of the first half.

They trailed 8-5 with about 14 minutes left and then proceeded to score 31 of the final 32 points of the half.

“You don’t see many girls teams play a 3-2 (zone), and it’s just been working,” Evansville head coach Tina Aasen said. “It got a little broken down at first in the post, because it takes us a little bit to adjust. But that was it.”

Eftemoff scored 15 of her 21 points in that dazzling first half.

She was taken out of the game briefly early on, when Evansville also suffered through some turnovers. Eftemoff responded by making a driving bucket that started a 19-0 run. She had 11 of her points during that stretch and finished 8 of 10 shooting from the floor on the night.

“You can tell sometimes with A.J. if something’s not right,” Aasen said. “I could hear her and (assistant coach Stephanie Aasen) talking. And after that, it was just like a light switch turned on.”

The Chiefs (7-3, 6-3) never could flip that switch in the first half. They trailed 36-9 at halftime.

“How many live-ball turnovers did we have, where we just threw the ball to those guys?” Big Foot coach Mike Dowden said. “We have to score to get into our press, and we couldn’t. This was the first game where our opponent dictated the tempo.”

Big Foot never got closer than within 23 points in the second half.

Evansville junior Paige Banks led all scorers with 23 points, including 13 of her own in the first half. She came in as one of the top scorers in the league, averaging more than 16.

Big Foot junior Reagan Courier is the league’s top scorer and was averaging more than 20 per game coming in. She finished with nine points.

The Rock Valley race remains murky at the midway point. McFarland and East Troy are tied at the top at 7-2, with Evansville and Big Foot lurking a game back.

The Blue Devils certainly look the part of contender. They’ve won six of their past seven games, with the lone loss to Division 1 Janesville Craig coming by three points.

“For sure, I feel really good about where we’re at,” Eftemoff said.

EVANSVILLE 67, BIG FOOT 35

Big Foot (35)—Peterson 5-0-10, Courier 3-1-9, VandeBogert 1-0-2, V. Larson 4-0-8, L. Larson 1-0-3, Foster 1-0-2, Baxter 0-1-1. Totals: 15-3-35.

Evansville (67)—Rinehart 2-1-5, Fillner 2-1-5, Sendelbach 1-0-2, Baumberger 1-0-2, Eftemoff 8-5-21, Wagner 2-2-6, Banks 9-5-23, Bush 0-3-3. Totals: 25-17-67.

Walworth Big Foot 9 26—35

Evansville 36 31—67

3-point goals—Big Foot 2 (Courier, L. Larson), Evansville 0. Free throws missed—Big Foot 10, Evansville 6. Total fouls—Big Foot 16, Evansville 14.

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