E.A. Sports Today

Panthers big man

Now that he’s eligible, Kelvin Evans gives Wellborn basketball coach Jordan Angle the legitimate big man he’s been missing over the years

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE — In his previous five seasons as Wellborn’s basketball coach, the one element Jordan Angle has been missing to make his teams complete was a legitimate big man.

It took a couple days for him to be available, but the big man has finally arrived like an early Christmas present.

Kelvin Evans made his much-awaited 2016-17 debut Thursday in the Panthers’ first win of the season, a 59-31 takedown of Ohatchee.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound senior played about eight minutes without scoring, but his mere presence will give teams the Panthers play the rest of the year something to think about as they game plan.

“It gives me more depth and it gives me some options if somebody does have a big guy then I’ve got one to match it,” Angle said. “It makes me feel a little bit better, especially on the defensive side. We had one (before), not quite as big — we had (6-2, 250) Dejuan Traylor back in the day.

“We’ve got some things in our book that we can do with a big guy. The big thing with Kelvin is getting him in shape to where he can play. He hasn’t played a lot of ball in a long time, so we’re just trying to get him back into shape and getting him back used to the feel.”

Evans was a Wellborn student through ninth grade, then spent the next 18 months at the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile, where he played a limited basketball schedule averaging about 10 points and eight boards.

He returned to the more familiar confines of Wellborn last December and would have been eligible for their season opener Monday had there not been a transcript compatibility issue and he needed to wait a required 48 hours before becoming eligible. That window closed Wednesday – after the Panthers had lost two heartbreakers – and Thursday was the first chance he got to play.

“I knew I was going to be able to play today on Monday,” Evans said. “I was antsy. I was like a racehorse. I was just sitting there jittery because I can’t get in and help my team. I know they needed me on the boards because that was one of the key things we missed in the Weaver game, rebounding and a big presence inside. Now that I’m back I feel great to get this win.”

Evans entered the game for the first time with 3:40 left in the first quarter but played for a few moments before coming out. He was left hanging at the scorer’s table for the final 1:41 of the first half because there was never another dead ball.

He seemed to go in whenever Ohatchee’s C.J. Ray was in the game. Ray, 6-4 and 270, checked in at 5:33 of the third and Evans went in right behind him. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

Imagine, now, a lineup that includes a big man to go with the usual weapons of Jordan Montgomery and Blake Hanson.

“It’s huge,” Montgomery said. “Not only is he helping us, but that’s my cousin, so I love playing with him. I have two cousins on this team, De Raines and Kelvin Evans. It’s the first time I get to play together with them and I have so much fun.

“We desperately need size on this team. We’ve never had size like that. Just now having Kelvin here and De and all these big guys that we have now, it just helps our team. I love my big guys.”

Wellborn girls 51, Ohatchee 34

When Ohatchee rallied to cut Wellborn’s lead to four about two minutes into the second half, Lady Panthers’ coach Shanese Morgan knew exactly what to do.

She called time, gave her players a gentle reminded about the importance of defense and got Vanessa Carter to take over.

The Lady Panthers (5-3) came out of the break in a trapping press and Carter immediately ripped off three steals and layups to send her team comfortably back ahead. Wellborn actually forced its hosts into six straight turnovers that was part of a 14-0 run before the Lady Indians (1-6) stopped it with less than two minutes left in the quarter.

“I was very proud of them for coming back and playing defense like they needed to,” Morgan said. “I tell my team defense is what’s going to win these games. Trying to get the new people on the team accustomed to playing great defense, when they came back on us, I kept sending them out there, kept making them work on their defense, because that’s what was going to get us the game.”

Wellborn 59, Ohatchee 31
WELLBORN (1-2) –
Chuck Taylor 0 0-0 0, Mitchell Raines 2-0-0 4, Eric Johnson 4 3-4 11, Jordan Montgomery 5 1-2 11, Devin Machristie 3 7-8 15, Ked Harris 0 0-0 0, Kameron Goodwin 0 0-0 0, Pat Harris 0 0-0 0, Dennis Towns 0 0-0 0, Blake Hanson 8 2-2 18, Dylan Grubbs 0 0-0 0, Brendan Crow 0 0-0 0, Kelvin Evans 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 13-16 59.

OHATCHEE (1-3) – Buckelew 2 0-0 6, Ben Glass 2 0-0 5, Grayson Alward 2 0-0 4, Carson Stone 0 0-0 0, Kevin Williamson 0 0-0 0, Domonique Thomas 1 0-0 2, Brennan Wink 0 0-2 0, Austin Tucker 1 3-5 5, Andrew Roberts 0 1-2 1, Bayley Tillison 1 0-0 2, C.J. Ray 3 0-0 6. Totals 12 4-9 31.

Wellborn 11 16 18 14 — 59
Ohatchee 8 2 13 8 — 31

3-point goals: Wellborn 2 (Machristie 2); Ohatchee 3 (Buckelew 2, Glass). Total fouls: Wellborn 11, Ohatchee 20. Officials: Burroughs, Stubbs, Kelley. Notes: Wellborn’s Montgomery had 15 rebounds, 4 steals. Hanson scored his 18 points without the benefit of a 3-pointer; he had 7 in Wellborn’s first two games. Hanson grabbed 7 rebounds. Johnson had 6 rebounds, 5 steals.

Wellborn 51, Ohatchee 34
WELLBORN (5-3) –
Vanessa Carter 11 4-5 27, Anaya Lowe 0 2-2 2, Loni Welch 0 0-0 0, McKenzie Raines 1 0-0 2, Katessa Carter 1 0-0 3, Amaya Myles 0 0-0 0, DaNasia Ackles 0 0-0 0, Itiania Weatherly 2 1-3 5, Jayla Lowe 0 0-0 0, Aliyah Thrasher 1 0-1 3, Rebecca Salter 0 0-0 0, Markeisha Jones 3 0-0 6, Taliyah Kirby 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 7-11 51.

OHATCHEE (1-6) – Jazmine Adams 3 1-2 9, Tori Vice 3 0-1 6, Kourtney Shuler 0 0-0 0, Marli Hanks 1 0-0 2, Maggie Phillips 3 0-0 6, Reagan Snow 1 0-0 2, Casey Cooper 2 1-1 5, Mandi Jennings 2 0-2 4. Totals 15 2-6 34.

Wellborn 17 6 16 12 — 51
Ohatchee 4 12 5 13 — 34

3-point goals: Wellborn 4 (V. Carter, K. Carter, Thrasher, Kirby); Ohatchee 2 (Adams 2). Total fouls: Wellborn 11, Ohatchee 16. Officials: Burroughs, Stubbs, Kelley.

On the cover: Every time Wellborn’s Kelvin Evans (34) went in the game during his season debut Thursday, he made sure to keep Ohatchee’s C.J. Ray close.

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