Evanston’s matchup with Willowbrook in a non-conference basketball game Tuesday had all the elements of what college coaches describe as a “trap” game.
The Wildkits might not have been as sharp as they could have been, considering that they were coming off their best performance of the season against an arch-rival (New Trier); they were facing a Willowbrook program for the first time, one that had only one victory coming into the game; and ETHS was minus a couple of players due to academic difficulties, too.
But the Wildkits refused to fall into the trap, reeling off 20 unanswered points in the third quarter and breezing to a 71-49 triumph while improving to 6-1 overall.
“Clearly, this was a possible trap game for us,” said Evanston head coach Mike Ellis following his team’s sixth consecutive victory. “We didn’t have a good practice (Monday) and clearly we have to have a better effort than last night and tonight if we’re going to beat Glenbrook South Friday. We need to be more solid defensively and not gamble so much.
“We were concerned at halftime because we felt like we were putting more of a focus on scoring points, instead of getting stops. Once we got those stops we were able to extend the lead during that stretch in the third quarter. I think the kids realized that even though we talked about it at halftime, until then it wasn’t getting done and it was time to step up and take ownership. They started to play with a defensive sense of urgency — like it really was important to them. That’s the sign of a team that cares.”
Junior Elijah Henry led the Kits with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots while only playing two and one-half quarters. Nibra White added 14 points and Will Jones contributed 8 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, and Dante Henley notched 5 of his team’s total 13 steals.
Willowbrook (1-5) trailed 36-26 at halftime and 43-32 with five minutes left in the third quarter before the hosts got serious and pulled off a 20-0 run. Eight different ETHS players scored during that surge, which began when senior guard C.J. Singletary scored back-to-back buckets.
Willowbrook outscored Evanston’s reserves 14-8 in the fourth quarter for a more respectable final margin.