By Scott Williams

March 7, 2020

CHIPPEWA FALLS – One measuring stick for any coach is how his or her team is playing at the end of a season compared to the start.

D.C. Everest first-year coach Jerry Pagel must have been smiling Saturday night as he watched the progress his team has shown.

Pagel was hoping the improvement the Evergreens have made over the past month would be enough to land them in the Division 1 sectional semifinals.

DCE showed remarkable fight down the stretch of its regional final Saturday, but a late rally came up just short in a crushing 69-67 loss at the hands of Chippewa Falls.

By comparison, the Evergreens were blown out by Chippewa Falls 78-51 on Feb. 11 in a regular season meeting between the schools.

Trailing by 13 points with just under 10 minutes left in regulation, DCE battled their way back into the game and had a chance to pull out a dramatic win in the closing seconds.

The Wisconsin Valley Conference champions had the ball and were down one point with 14 seconds left on the clock.

However, the Evergreens turned the ball over and a last-gasp desperation heave at the buzzer was off target to end their season in heartbreaking fashion.

DCE fought a uphill battle most of the game, with the Cardinals grabbing and early lead. Their advnatge grew to 55-42 with 9:43 left in the second half.

DCE refused to lay over, however. With Bryan Halambeck, who finished with a team-high 21 points, and Alex Stuedemann leading the charge Chippewa Falls was feeling the pressure.

Stuedemann finished with 14 points.

In the end, the Cardinals were able to hang on and earn a sectional semifinal date with Neenah, a 63-49 winner over Marshfield, on Thursday.

The Evergreens end the season with an 18-6 record.