Being a standout on the basketball court was not something that Fairmont senior Josh Eversman was used to when he was younger.
"I wasn't a very tall player when I was younger. And I wasn't always the best player," said Eversman. "Before my sophomore year, I grew about four inches, and I worked really hard and hit the weight room and I think that really helped me."
Now, during his final season on the hardwood for the Class 2A, No. 2-ranked Cardinals, Eversman is averaging 18 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
ELEVATING — Fairmont forward Josh Eversman elevates to dunk the basketball against Windom Area during season-opening action Nov. 23 at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Eversman has literally elevated his overall game this season to help guide the Cardinals to a 10-1 start prior to Friday night’s game in St. James. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"I think last year we saw glimpses of what Josh was able to do, but this season his skills have shown themselves more consistently," Fairmont head coach Jared Thompson said about Eversman's 10.1-point and 5.6-rebound averages from last season.
In addition to providing height in the paint to give opposing coaches reason to worry, Eversman's talents extend outside the lane, too.
"This season, I think because I'm a senior, coach has given me a little more freedom," said Eversman. "I bring the ball up at times, and with my speed I think it's tough for teams to guard me driving to the basket."
A Sentinel All-Area second-team selection last year, Eversman's shooting from the perimeter has been on spotlight early, along with a pair of stellar dunks to punctuate a 10-1 start for Fairmont.
After earning all-South Central Conference honors last season, Eversman opened this season with his career-high scoring night of 28 points, with 21 of those coming from 3-point land.
"I think most nights Josh could be the best athlete on the floor," said Thompson. "He was a late bloomer, but he kept working hard. With his height and speed, he's a special kid to have on our team."
In addition to his scoring abilities, Eversman's long arms and vertical jump give him the chance to grab a lot of rebounds and frustrate opponents.
"I really take pride in my rebounding, I think, because I wasn't always the tallest but could jump pretty well," said Eversman. "But now I try to get a double-double every game if I can."
When Eversman swipes an opponent's pass and the Cardinal offense literally puts its transition game in motion, there is an opportunity to see Eversman's vertical jump electrify a crowd.
"I really like it when our team can get out and run in transition," said Eversman. "I'm pretty fast and so to get a steal and score quick is something that I've always enjoyed. And this year I've been able to throw a couple down which was great."
The senior-dominated team also has been able to do something it hadn't the two years prior - finishing off the Bethany Lutheran Tournament as champion with an 85-59 win over St. Clair on Dec. 28.
With a talented senior group, the Cardinals traveled to SCC opponent St. James on Friday night prior to playing host to Granada-Huntley-East Chain tonight in Game 2 of a varsity doubleheader at Cardinal Gym.
"I think that this team has gotten better at scoring this season and we have a lot of potential," said Eversman. "Our defense still needs some improvements, but if we can get that, I think we could have a longer season."
For a balanced and successful team, Eversman is standing out not only to opponents but to his own coaches as well.
"I don't think it's a surprise that he's having a year like this one, with his abilities and how hard he's worked, and he loves basketball as much as anyone," said Thompson. "So all of those things are finally paying off for him this season."