Evangel earns first road win over Wiregrass in school history

Published 10:12 pm Monday, January 22, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

DOTHAN – The Evangel Christian Lightning made history with their first win on the road in program history against their conference rivals the Wiregrass Kings on Saturday, Jan. 20.

With the 62-46 victory, the Lightning improved to 17-3 on the season and remain in the driver’s seat in the ACSC standings.

“This was a big conference win for our guys and we finally got that off our back and we can shift our focus to the remainder of our season,” Evangel coach Hagan Joiner said.

Evangel’s offense got out to a strong start with 16 points in the opening quarter, including four points apiece from Owen Bugnar, Clay Stanton and Hayden Black in a balanced scoring effort.

The Lightning limited the Kings offense to just two different scorers in the first half and eight points in each quarter.

After Evangel took a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, the second quarter played out identically to the first on the scoreboard, but the Lightning scored their 16 points in a different way.

Bugnar and Paul Dixon each hit three-pointers to get Evangel’s deep shooting going as five different players found the bottom of the net, which gave the Lightning a 32-16 lead at halftime.

Wiregrass’ offense improved in the third quarter and scored 17 points in the opening minutes of the second half to put the pressure on Evangel.

However, two more three-pointers from Bugnar helped the Lightning keep pace and maintain a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter.

With Evangel leading 44-33 at the start of the final period, it countered a strong long-range shooting quarter from the Kings with continued offense from Bugnar and free throws from Zion Thompson to close out the win.

Joiner was proud of his team for overcoming the pressure that Wiregrass put on them to start the third quarter and finish off the double-digit win.

“I am proud of our guys’ effort,” Joiner said. “(Wiregrass) came out in the second half and went on a run and our guys didn’t stop fighting.”

He was especially proud of his team’s performance in a tough road environment to earn the historic win.

“Any time our team gets a chance to go on the road against a really good opponent in a hostile environment and compete, I love that,” Joiner said.

Bugnar led the Lightning with 21 points, and two of his teammates joined him in double-figures as Thompson had 14 points and Black scored 12 points. In addition, Dixon had five points.

Evangel is now 4-0 in ACSC play and will look to stay unbeaten on the road against Tuscaloosa Home Educators on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.