The Hawks gave the Kits their first loss of the season back on Dec. 8 in Beardsley Gym, and they seemed to become a better team since then. The game started out even, with both teams struggling on offense. The Kits struggled to capitalize on turnovers when the Hawks gave the ball away nine times in the second quarter alone.
Going into the second half, Evanston was down by 5 points and was still struggling on offense. Maine South held onto a slim margin in the fourth quarter, but the Kits came back late in the period. Junior Garrett Jones led the comeback with a three-pointer, with 3:57 left in the game. He later added another three-pointer to bring Evanston to within 47-45. After a Hawks turnover, Evanston senior forward Tyrone Gibbs scored with 1:18 left to tie the score at 47. Neither team scored in the remainder of regulation play, and the game went into overtime.
In the extra period, the Hawks made 5 free throws in the first two minutes to go up, 52-47. The Kits never took the lead as they struggled on both sides of the ball, and eventually lost. 57-56. Jones led the disappointed Kits with 18 points.
Two days later, the Kits went to North Park University to face Chicago Corliss, and they got a much needed boost after their tough overtime loss to the Hawks. After leading by just one after the first quarter, Evanston pulled away in the second period, led by Jones and senior Ryan Frazier-Chambers. The Kits went into halftime with a 33-25 lead and proceeded to take over in the third quarter, outscoring the Trojans, 24-12, in the period. Evanston added to their lead in the final period and picked up a big win over Corliss, 65-42. Jones led Evanston with 22 points, with Frazier putting in 14 of his own.
Although the game against Corliss was on a Sunday and did not impact their sectional seeding, Head Coach Bobby Locke still felt it was an important game to win.
“Playing here on a Sunday night made this an unusual day, and I think it affected a couple of our guys,” Coach Locke said. “But this is an experience we’ll be able to draw from for the playoffs. We still have to be a little more patient and focused in our half court offense, because we have guys moving too fast. They have to understand that we want to dictate the pace.”
On Jan. 26, the Kits went to Welsh-Ryan Arena to take on New Trier. Back on Dec. 11, the Kits faced the Trevians in their first match-up of the season. They went into that game with a 5-1 record and on a hot streak, but they gave up a 5 point lead in the fourth quarter of that game and eventually lost by 4. Coach Locke believed that game changed his team and has been looking to face the Trevians ever since.
The Trevians started off hot in the second match-up, quickly going on a 17-3 run, mostly due to the outside shooting of senior John Hurley who had four 3-pointers in the first period alone. Although New Trier was on fire to start, some of that flame was put out when star senior Alex Rossi had to come out of the game due to an injured ankle. It initially looked like he would be out the whole game, but that was not the case. Not only did he come back, but he helped the Trevians keep their lead going into the half. Evanston took a lead in the third quarter, but both teams traded the lead after that until Rossi drained late free throws in the fourth quarter. After a missed 3-point attempt by Frazier-Chambers, the Kits fell to New Trier again 58-55.
Evanston is now 9-10 and will try to turn it around on Friday at home against Niles West.The Kits only have a handful of games left and for them to even prepare for the state playoffs, they must find an answer to their current struggles.