Bobby Locke, head coach of the Wildkits boys basketball team, tells his players to be prepared for each game, but he especially tells them to be ready for the annual state tournament. This is the time of the season when every squad in Illinois is preparing for a playoff run, and Coach Locke is certain his team is ready to upset many teams in March. But as every good coach knows, the one thing a team needs going into a tournament is momentum, and the Kits are slowly building it up. When senior guard Nik Garcia joined the Wildkits’ starting lineup on Jan. 30, many knew his presence would have an impact due to his prolific scoring talents. But there was one team every Evanston fan wanted to see the 6’6′ star excel against: his former team the Niles West Wolves. The Wildkits match-up against the Wolves at Niles West on Feb. 6 was not the warmest homecoming for Garcia, who starred for the Wolves for his first three years in high school. The Wildkits beat the Wolves in December by 18 points, so many expected having Garcia in the lineup this time would mean a bigger improvement. The Wolves started the game surprisingly, putting Evanston in a tough spot offensively and leading throughout most of the first quarter. But Evanston quickly bounced back, led by Garcia’s 11 points in the period, and the Wildkits led by 6 points at the end of the first quarter. Evanston started fast in the second quarter and stepped up big on defense, essentially shutting down the Wolves. The Wildkits were led offensively this time by sophomore guard Garrett Jones, who scored 10 in the period and finished with 23 points overall. Evanston took a comfortable lead into halftime and continued to dominate through the third quarter, once again led by Garcia who scored the first 13 points to start the second half. The Wolves fans then began to taunt their former mate, but that did not prevent the big senior from tearing the Wolves up with 34 points overall and grabbing a team-high 8 rebounds in an 80-64 thrashing. Garcia was glad to get a win on his former team’s home turf. “It’s very emotional and I wanted to do well. First and foremost I wanted to get a win,” Garcia said. “We did some things wrong. I was too emotional out there, obviously, getting a technical. It just feels good to get a win in here. It feels good.” In their next game Evanston stayed home to face a good Prospect team on Feb. 10, but the game itself was not the biggest story. Coach Bobby Locke was suspended for that game due to an incident at a junior varsity game at Niles West on Feb. 7. He was sitting in the stands at the junior varsity game at Niles West while Assistant Coach Robert Bost coached the team. After Coach Bost was given a technical foul, Coach Locke encouraged the players to pick up their level of play and work harder so they could go home. The referee viewed this as a distraction and ejected Locke from the gym, which in turn triggered an automatic suspension for one game. After the ejection and other controversial calls made by the officials, Coach Bost took his team from the gym before the game ended. ETHS Athletic Director Chris Livatino sent a letter to the Illinois High School Association defending Coach Locke and stating it unfairly deprived him of the opportunity to coach his team on Feb. 10. The Wildkits varsity team lost to Prospect, 75-50, on Feb. 10. Evanston put that loss behind them going against conference foe Glenbrook South on Feb.13. This time the Titans’ 6’9″ star Jack Cooley was forced to sit out the game because he fractured his left hand last month. The Kits capitalized quickly by going inside with good drives and either getting easy lay-ups or drawing fouls. Instead of giving Garcia the ball on almost every possession, the Kits opted for good ball distribution and spread out the scoring. Garrett Jones led Evanston in the balanced box score with 20 points, many of which came from the free throw line. Junior Tyrone Gibbs stepped up big with 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Four Kit players scored in double digits in a convincing 76-65 win. Evanston is now 13-11 for the season. In their final games before the playoffs, the Wildkits will face conference foe Waukegan on Feb. 21, then Highland Park; both games are at home. From the sounds of things, Coach Locke believes the Wildkits are the most dangerous 10-loss team in Illinois, and his team will not be intimidated by any team from now on.