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PRINCETON — Princeton senior center Cole Evenson came up clutch Tuesday night. Evenson scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter as the host Tigers topped Hall 54-41 in non-conference action at Prouty Gymnasium.
Evenson connected on 4-for-4 free throws and a wide open layup on a perfectly executed PHS press breaker to help fuel a 10-0 Tiger run in the closing two minutes of the fourth quarter.
Austen Stewart started the surge with a 3-pointer from the right corner to put Princeton up 45-39 at the two-minute warning, and Evenson added his six points sandwiched around 1-of-2 free throws from Zach Stroud to give the Tigers a 52-39 lead when the smoke cleared with 1:01 to play.
The Red Devils got a pair of free throws from Ian Trevier to stop the bleeding with 52 seconds left, but it was too little, too late as PHS knocked down 2-of-4 from the charity stripe to ice the contest.
Princeton coach Jesse Brandt said it was one of his squad’s best efforts in recent memory as his Tigers committed just four turnovers and shot 42 percent from the field (19-of-45).
“We haven’t had one of those (four turnover games) in a long time, even when we had the real good teams we didn’t get those, but we played a lot faster then too,” Brandt said. “That was a real big part of the game. We took care of the ball and executed for the most part. We had a couple of bad stretches there but we were able to get back in the game.
“We were patient offensively and we executed how we wanted. We got the shots we wanted and it was nice to see some go in tonight as well.”
The Tigers led 17-6 after the first quarter, but Hall battled back in the second frame.
The Red Devils cut the PHS lead down to 22-19 on a reverse layup from Brett Fanning with two minutes to go in the first half and entered the locker room trailing 27-23.
Princeton upped its advantage to nine points with a 5-0 start out of intermission with a post basket and 1-of-2 free throws from Austin Mack sandwiched around an Evenson bucket to lead 32-23 with a little less than six minutes to play in the third.
Not content to go away quietly, Hall responded with a 7-0 run midway through the quarter.
Fanning got the Red Devil rally sparked with an old-fashioned three-point play after getting fouled on a drive and layup. He added another drive and score on Hall’s next possession.
Miguel Villareal capped of the run with a drive of his own to pull Hall within one at 34-33 with 3:10 left in the quarter
When it was all said and done, the two teams exchanged 11-point third quarters to enter the fourth with PHS leading 38-34.
Kieffer had 14 points and six rebounds for the Tigers. Stewart joined him and Evenson in double-digit scoring with 10 points of his own, while Mack hauled in a team-high seven rebound for Princeton (5-15).
Danny Nolasco and Villareal each scored nine points for Hall (5-12). Fanning, who led the way with 15 points, matched Ian Trevier and Austin Schmitt for the team lead with five rebounds.
“We told them (in the locker room), ‘We’re not losing because of execution. We’re not losing because of lack of effort or lack of teamwork.’ We told the kids in there, ‘It’s frustrating to lose, but when you don’t make shots, you don’t look good,’” Hall coach Mike Filippini said. “We didn’t make shots. It was 42-39 and they got it to (52-39) before we scored again. It was a three-point game — a one-possession game — and they rattled off (10) points in a row.
“That’s why we have the record we do. We have to find some way, somehow to get the ball in the bucket to kill a run like that.”
Notes: Fanning, who is 20 points away from hitting 1,000 for his varsity career at Hall, drew a foul on seven of his 15 field-goal attempts and finished 11-of-13 from the charity stripe. … Princeton won the down-to-the-wire sophomore contest 63-57. Garrett Duffin led the Kittens with 32 points while Hall’s Julian Barroso was top man for the Red Demons with a 24-point effort.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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