Red Bird made it all the way to the regional finals in 1994 and posted several 20-win seasons before falling off in recent years.
If Thursday's 77-48 win at Evarts is any indication, the Cardinals may be poised for a revival. Four players reached double figures and Red Bird shot 58 percent (32 of 55) to improve its record to 4-1.
“I thought John D.'s team played extremely well. They were really ready to play, and they ran their offensive sets extremely well,” Evarts coach Jerry Ford said. “They moved the ball quick, knew when to cut and found each other. It was textbook. I thought they played about as good a game as you can play.
“When they're hitting like that, there's not a whole lot you can do. They are a better team than last year.”
The Wildcats defeated Red Bird 56-50 last season at Evarts.
“When we come to Evarts, we usually go out of here with a loss, so we're tickled to death,” Wilson said. “Evarts plays hard. I knew they would get after us.”
Junior guard Derek Davis poured in 25, hitting four of six 3-point attempts, to lead the Cardinals. Senior center Paul Hoskins has added an inside presence for Red Bird as he connected on 11 of 13 shots for 24 points.
“It's his second year of playing basketball, and he's come a long way,” Wilson said of Hoskins.
“Hoskins is a good player,” Ford said. “He really hurt us a lot. Their size hurt us.”
Junior guard Mark Fogleman scored 16 and senior point guard C.R. Berry added 12 to round out the Cardinals' attack.
“I've got some boys who can play, and we work extremely hard, especially on fundamentals,” Wilson said. “If they just play intelligent, they can compete.
“It is the best bunch we've had for a while, even though a lot of them are inexperienced.”
Senior guard James Ledford scored 12 to lead Evarts (0-3). Shawn Bush and Cody Farley added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Evarts led through much of the first quarter before Davis' hot hand helped the Cardinals pull ahead 21-16 by the end of the period. Davis hit all five of his shots in the quarter, and the Cardinals connected on nine of 13.
The Wildcats went cold in the second quarter, missing 12 of 13 shots as Red Bird took command. Hoskins hit all four of his shots as the Cardinals built a 37-19 advantage by halftime.
Evarts picked up its intensity on defense by pressing to open the second half, but each time the Cats made a move, a mistake usually followed. The lead alternated between 17 and 20 points much of the quarter as Red Bird led 55-36 going into the fourth quarter.
“We'd cut the lead down and then we'd have a breakdown defensively and do something stupid,” Ford said. “You can't press and guard four and leave one wide open.”
The lead was at 20 with four minutes left when Davis found the range from the baseline with back-to-back 3-pointers. Fogleman added a trey of his own, and Berry contributed a jumper to cap an 11-0 run that pushed the lead to 31.
Evarts returns to action Saturday in a 6 p.m. game at David School.
Josh Sizemore scored eight and Zeke Asher added seven as Red Bird (1-1) held on for a 27-25 win in the junior varsity game.
Randy Fields and Mendall Haynes each scored six to lead Evarts (0-2). Cody McCreary added five. William Botts scored four. Zack Flanary tossed in two. Jerry Joseph and Bruce Short each added one.
RED BIRD (4-1)
C.R. Berry 5-9 2-2 12, Derek Davis 10-17 1-2 25, Mark Fogleman 6-9 2-2 16, Kyle Peters 0-1 0-0 0, Paul Hoskins 11-13 2-5 24, Brandon Roberts 0-3 0-0 0, Dee Brock 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Morgan 0-0 0-0 0, Zeke Asher 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Sizemore 0-2 0-0 0, Nathan Brumback 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 32-55 7-11 77.
James Ledford 6-15 0-0 12, Jarrod Fields 3-9 0-0 9, Shawn Bush 5-15 0-0 11, Cody Farley 5-9 0-0 10, Bruce Short 0-0 1-2 1, Travis Helton 1-4 3-4 5, Trevor Smith 0-0 0-2 0, Randy Fields 0-0 0-0 0, Mendall Haynes 0-2 0-0 0, William Botts 0-0 0-0 0, Cody McCreary 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-54 4-8 48.
Red Bird 21 16 18 22 - 77
Evarts 16 3 17 12 - 48
3-point goals: Red Bird 6-16 (Davis 4-6, Fogleman 2-3, Brock 0-1, Roberts 0-2, Berry 0-4), Evarts 4-18 (Fields 3-7, Bush 1-4, Haynes 0-1, Helton 0-2, Ledford 0-4). Rebounds: Red Bird 30 (Fogleman 9), Evarts 22 (Ledford 6). Turnovers: Red Bird 17, Evarts 17. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: Evarts (Ledford).