Last season when Head Coach Bobby Locke’s team was knocked out of the New Trier Regional finals by Glenbrook North, he knew his team had some work to do if they wanted to replicate their success from two seasons ago when the team finished third in the state.
The Kits finished last season with a 15-13 record, and they have not lost much senior leadership coming into this season. Coach Locke made sure his team was prepared to take the Central Suburban Conference title for a second time in three seasons, and the work started early in the summer when the team played in the AAU programs and then in the Wildkits’ own summer camp.
The Kits comes into this season loaded with young talent and is looking to showcase their skills. Much of the Kits’ talent is at the guard position where junior shooting guard Garrett Jones and Ryan Frazier-Chambers, both third-year varsity players, will lead the backcourt along with second-year varsity guard sophomore Josh Irving and a new arrival in freshman star player Lorenzo Dillard, who is already one of the top recruits in the state.
One of the many questions coming into this season for Evanston was how the forwards, big men and the bench would produce. Coach Locke has the utmost confidence in his other key players and is looking for them to step up as the season progresses. Some of the players expected to make big contributions are junior small forwards Earl Washington, Clarke Rosenberg, senior power forward Tyrone Gibbs and junior James Farr and senior Patrick Husain at the center position.
Many fans will also notice a change in the schedule early on this season as Evanston starts out with the Mundelein Thanksgiving Tournament, rather than opening the season with the Lane Tech Thanksgiving tournament. On Monday, Nov. 23, the Kits played their first of five games in the Mundelein tournament, and edged out Lakes High School.
The game against Lakes started off with both teams looking like they were shaking off some rust, as both Evanston and Lakes struggled from the field and both shot low percentages early on. Although both teams went back and forth throughout most of the first half, one thing for Evanston was constant, shooting guard Jones showed many fans how big a scorer he could be throughout the season, as he scored 13 points in the first half and 25 overall, leading all scorers.
It was a see-saw game until the fourth quarter when the Kits with the help of Jones’ three-point shooting, gave themselves a little breathing room on the scoreboard. With a minute left, the Kits led by 5. After free throws by Evanston and a late three pointer by Lakes, the Kits were victorious in their first game of the season winning by a score of 54-51.
The game was not as flashy a win as fans were hoping for, but Coach Locke will take a win any way he can, knowing it is still early in the season. The Kits were scheduled to play their second game in the tournament last night after this paper went to press. Coming up for Evanston later in the tournament is Grayslake Central High School on Friday, then the Kits take on Carmel the next day, and they finish off the tournament on Monday against Loyola Academy.
The Kits then start their regular season at home in Beardsley Gym against Maine South in an early conference showdown. Hopefully by then, the Kits will find a rhythm. With a 1-0 record, they are off to a good start.