The Evans sisters have one year on same teamBasketball's not just a four- or five-month game in Knappa. If you haven't noticed by now, it's a year-round adventure. And March is the time to shine for the Loggers.

It was just four years ago that the Knappa boys were wrapping up their second of two straight state championships, and the Loggers made their last title game appearance three years ago, losing to Oakland in the 2000 final.

My, how things can change in three short years.

The Knappa boys went 4-10 in league play this season - the same record the Logger girls posted in 1999-2000. The Knappa girls weren't exactly the doormats of the Northwest League three years ago, but they were on the front porch.

Opposing teams walked all over the Loggers quite a few times that season, which also happened to be the freshman year for players such as Rene'e Evans, Molly Miller and Tonya Olds.

Knappa senior Rene'e Evans (4) shows her skill in a basketball game earlier this season. She was named to the Northwest League First Team. The team opens play at the State Basketball Tournament in Pendleton at 11 a.m. today.

Three years later - while the boys' program is in a promising rebuilding stage - Evans, Miller, Olds and company are the front-runners for a state title as the Loggers open play in Pendleton this morning against Colton.

So just how did the Knappa girls manage to go from cellar dwellers to title contenders?

The obvious factors - Mike Jacobson taking over as head coach; talented athletes such as Evans, Miller and Olds; and the influence of the boys' success. Basketball is big in Knappa. Basketball is huge.

Nadra keeps control of the ball with Reme'e in the background.

LORI ASSA--The Daily Astorian

Is there a day that goes by where Rene'e Evans doesn't play basketball?

"Sometimes there is," she said. "Like when it gets over with, I'll take a week off. We won't have open gym for awhile, so I'll just go outside on our own hoop and shoot around with Nadra. There's some competitiveness there."

That competitiveness is part of playing basketball in Knappa.

This year's senior class has "played together since the third grade, every single year," said Evans, who has a school record 1,535 points as she enters the state tournament. "I've always played basketball, ever since I was little. When we were real little, my dad got us a dunk hoop in the house, and my brother and I played on that.

"Then when we got older, all the neighbors would come over, so I grew up playing against the guys. And my dad would come out and play and whup us every now and then."

Playing against the boys helps the Knappa girls more than people might know.

LORI ASSA - The Daily Astorian

Knappa's Nadra Evans scoops up a loose ball against Philomath earlier this basketball season at the Seaside Tournament of Champions.

"We've been practicing against the guys' JV team this year, and it's a much quicker game with the guys," Evans said. "It helps us a lot. Then every Sunday we have open gym, and we go up and play rat ball.

"Sometimes after school, there are all the guys who don't play basketball, and we have what we call 'dunk ball,' and we'll go over to their house and dunk. I've just always had basketball."

The post-season honors started last week for Evans, who was named the Northwest League Player of the Year following the league tournament.

There's bound to be more on the way, including a possible state Player of the Year award. With the Knappa student section chanting "M-V-P" at all games, does Evans pay attention to all the MVP hype?

"Nope. Just bringin' home the big trophy," she said. "I really don't believe in that kind of (individual) stuff. I'm just doing what I need to do to get done for my team. Just playing hard."

Jacobson - this year's Northwest League Coach of the Year - said Evans doesn't put too much pressure on herself, mainly because she plays the team game.

"It doesn't matter to her if she scores or not," he said. "She does so many other things, defensively and rebounding for us."

Evans can obviously play at the next level, but she has yet to decide on where to continue her athletic career.

"I'm looking more toward the education point of view," she said last week.

Once the state playoffs are over, Evans will turn to the spring sports, where she will play softball and compete on the track, throwing the javelin and running on a relay team.

Unfortunately for the Knappa folks, this will be the first and only year of the "Evans Sisters' Tour."

Rene'e will be graduating, while sister Nadra is in her freshman year. And it hasn't been a bad season for Nadra, who was selected second-team all-league this year.

"It's been a lot of fun, especially playing with my sister," Nadra said. "We are very competitive."

The younger Evans has made a successful transition to the high school level, where she has started most of the season.

"I just had to work hard and earn my spot," she said. "I still need to work on everything. I played with them during summer ball, and that helped a lot. It gets you caught up for the season."

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