Evanston’s basketball team learned a hard lesson last year about what it means to play together.
Saturday night at Beardsley Gym, the Wildkits rose to the occasion at the second annual Bob Bost Classic and taught rival New Trier a lesson of their own.
Coach Mike Ellis’ squad dominated from start to finish and drilled the Trevians 68-39 in the Central Suburban League South division opener for both schools. It marked the most points scored by an ETHS squad since December of last year, and that production came because of a balanced effort at both ends of the floor.
Nibra White (19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), Elijah Henry (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Will Jones (12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) did most of the damage for the winners, who shot a season best 53 percent (26-of-49) while limiting the visitors to just 34 percent shooting from the floor.
Evanston earned its fifth straight triumph after a season-opening loss. The Trevians fell to 3-3 on the season.
For the hosts, the ability to score in transition — 12 points came off New Trier turnovers and helped White connect on 8-of-9 field goal attempts — led to the easy baskets that were out of reach for most of last year.
“We got one-third of our points off our offense, one-third at the free throw line and when you couple that with what we got in transition, that was a solid effort tonight,” Ellis said. “Is that the best we can play offensively? Obviously the object of the game is to keep getting better, so I hope we do.
“We played through our teammates tonight and that’s always been the emphasis for us. I think they carried over the lessons we learned at the Lane Tech Thanksgiving Tournament about how to play together as a team. And we talked to our guys at our shoot-around this morning about how many times do you have the opportunity to open conference play against New Trier at Beardsley Gym? Maybe once in three or four decades, so you have to make the most of the moment and come out ready to play.”
White splurged for eight points in the first eight minutes to help the hosts build a 22-13 advantage. They never looked back, stretching the lead to 38-17 at halftime and 54-28 after three quarters.
White tossed in a pair of 3-point baskets in a 16-4 surge by ETHS in the second quarter and the senior guard has never looked better, at least at the offensive end.
“Nibra is a scorer,” Ellis said. “But his shooting percentage increases by 10 percent when he and his teammates are willing to give the ball up, and then get it back. We did a great job of knowing when to pass to an open teammate, and when to shoot it tonight.”
New Trier connected on just 12-of-35 from the floor, as Ricky Samuelson (17 points) was the only player in double figures for the losers.
Evanston hosts Willowbrook on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in a non-conference game.