MISHAWAKA | West Side coach Rod Fisher said that if a team could figure out a way to slow down or stop Dana Evans, the Cougars could be beat.
Through 21 games, no team had.
Then West Side met Penn.
The Kingsmen held Evans to four first-half points and 18 overall as they beat the Cougars 57-43 in the Class 4A Penn Regional championship game Saturday night.
Despite an 18-point deficit at halftime, West Side pulled within six points in the fourth quarter, thanks to a surge that came almost too little, too late.
"We made a run, but when you give one of the best teams in the state a 13, 14-point lead on their home floor, it's sorta hard to come back," Fisher said.
Evans scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter and was held in the second half without a field goal until the 1:09 mark of the third quarter.
"We felt like the time was going out and we had to give it our all," Evans said. "They played good defense, they played really good defense. We were tired and beat up from the first game. We rested, but we were still tired."
Evans led all players in scoring, and was the only West Side player to reach double figures.
Amari Ferguson added seven points before fouling out, and Jerrica Neal and Lexus Fox had six each.
After scoring 35 points in the semifinal game against Northridge, Evans was no secret to Penn.
The Kingsmen were led by 17 points from Camryn Buhr and picked up 13 from Caroline Buhr and 12 from Jess Alexander.
With 25 fouls and two players fouled out, West Side sent Penn to the free-throw line 38 times, where the Kingsmen picked up 26 points. West Side was 17 of 18 from the line.
"We got too aggressive and sent them to the foul line," Fisher said. "The game could have been a lot closer if we didn't spot them 12, 14 points."
The Cougars turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and 19 times overall. Penn picked up 17 points off of turnovers.
"The first quarter was decent, the second quarter was awful, and whoever was dribbling the ball, four other people were standing around and watching," Fisher said. "We were lethargic the second and basically the third quarter."
"I think it was fatigue," Evans said. "They were executing better and moving the ball better, and we weren't."
West Side was the only team in the regional bracket that Penn had not played in the regular season.
The Cougars went 3-2 against opponents on both schedules, and Penn won all meetings against the likes of Lake Central, South Bend Clay, E.C. Central and South Bend Washington. West Side split with Lake Central, lost to Washington and beat the other two.
Penn will play Logansport in the Northern Semistate at either Crown Point or Warsaw.