The Evanston Township High School boys basketball team finished the regular season with an overall record of 17-10 and headed into the 20-team Glenbrook South Sectional as the fifth seed with hopes of making a deep run in the Class 4A playoffs.
After winning the Class 4A Notre Dame Regional with wins over Maine West on Feb. 29, 44-28, and host Notre Dame on March 2, 51-48, the Kits advanced to the Sectional round. Against Maine West, senior Leonard Garron had 11 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Kits, with seniors Jordan Perrin scoring 9 and Matt Munro adding 7 points.
Since Archrival New Trier also won its regional, the two longtime rivals met in the first round of Sectionals on March 6. This game would also serve as a tiebreaker as the teams split two regular season meetings.
In that game, the Kits prevailed by a score of 65-49 over the Trevians, who were ranked No. 12 and held the No. 1 seed in the Sectional. Senior Josh Irving led the Kits with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. Senior Terrell Farmby scored 16 points and Leonard Garron added 11 points along with 10 rebounds.
Head coach Mike Ellis said, “I don’t think the score of that game is indicative of the way the Trevians play on the court. But I’m certainly proud of the way our kids came out and played as hard as they could. They did a nice job of matching up against the No. 1 seed in the Sectional and doing everything possible in being focused and motivated to try to keep their season alive.”
Beating New Trier earned the Kits a spot in the Sectional final against Niles North on March 9. In that game, the Kits again prevailed 62-42. “For a Sectional (final) game, there was a lot of electricity and I thought we did a nice job of playing in that electricity,” said Ellis. “A lot of times, teams are over-motivated or come out flat. I think our kids did a good job of hanging around in the first half, then finding a rhythm in the second half. Coming out of halftime, I thought our kids did a great job of taking the game to another level.”
Irving led the way once again with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Garron added 16 points and six rebounds for the Kits. “Leonard was outstanding. He has been playing really well lately. We count on Leonard to make so many plays on both ends of the floor. He has been a huge part in our postseason run,” said the coach regarding Garron’s play.
Coach Ellis said of Irving that “Josh, in the first half, was a little uncomfortable. He was looking to not make mistakes, [but] in the second half, he came out a little more aggressive. Our kids feed off his energy and Josh was a big part of us taking our game up a notch.”
With the win, the Kits improved to 21-10 overall and advanced to the Super Sectional for the first time since the 2007-08 season when they finished 3rd in State.
“[Winning Sectionals] is a great accomplishment for the kids. I think that …that at the start of the season, possibly a lot of people did not have us picked to win the Sectional,” said Ellis. “What we talked about as the season unfolded is that we had beat the number one seed in the regular season, we had beat the number four seed and we lost to St. Patrick’s, who’s a number three seed, by two. And we felt we could have played a lot better in that game. So three out of the top four seeds we felt good about playing. I thought that gave our kids a lot of confidence playing in the Sectional.”
Added the coach, “To have the strength of schedule we do and have those sorts of battles we do, it is good to see that pay off for us in the Sectional tournament, being tested like that throughout the season against good opponents.”
On March 13, the Kits played in the Chicago State Super Sectional against the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Simeon. They lost 59-34. The Kits were within 3 points after the first quarter, but they fell 10 behind at the half and 16 behind after the third quarter.
After the game, the ETHS athletic office issue a statment saying, ” … All who were lucky enough to see [the team] these final weeks would agree they showed us what teamwork, heart, pride and true effective effort can produce. It was also terrific to see the orange and blue clad student section really start to flourish and the die-hard Evanston community and ETHS alumni come out in droves game after game to cheer the team on to victory.”
The statement also offered a “special thank you to our coaching staff and players for taking us on a wonderful journey these past few weeks. You not only brought your team closer together, you helped bring our school and community closer together as well.”