Evanston’s basketball team pulled within 35-31 on a drive by Nibra White with 1 minute, 33 seconds remaining in the third quarter Friday night in a battle of Central Suburban League South division co-leaders at Beardsley Gymnasium.
That’s when the layup drill began in earnest for Maine South.
The Hawks scored all of their remaining baskets — nine of them — on layups down the stretch and executed almost flawlessly in the fourth quarter of a 61-47 victory that snapped Evanston’s seven-game winning string.
Those defensive lapses by the hosts, and 34 percent (17-of-50) shooting from the floor, combined to drop ETHS to 7-2 on the season and 2-1 in league play. The Wildkits face unbeaten Loyola Academy Saturday at 6 p.m. in their final game before the Pekin Holiday Tournament trip.
Maine South improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in CSL South action behind George Sargeant’s 19 points and 8 rebounds, 15 points from Caleb deMarigny, and 13 points from Andrew Palucki.
Evanston’s difficulties attacking South’s 3-2 matchup zone defense included just 5-of-23 sniping from 3-point range. Will Jones and Jackson Mihevc tied for team scoring honors with 10 points apiece for ETHS.
“The difference in points in the paint tonight was 42-16, and you’ll never beat a team when they score 42 points at the basket (rim) like that,” pointed out Evanston coach Mike Ellis. “We didn’t play tough, we didn’t play smart, and on offense we didn’t share the ball. No doubt about it, we forced a lot of shots, and when that happens you’ll shoot a low percentage.
“They made layups all night because we didn’t rotate to help and we didn’t communicate on defense. We were mentally checked out, and we weren’t communicating. Every time we got within four points, or made it a two possession game, we’d come up with a mistake on the defensive end, and it was a wide open layup for them.”
A pair of early 3-point baskets by Jones provided an 8-5 advantage for the Wildkits, but the visitors countered with a 9-0 run and never trailed again. The Kits trailed at the first quarter stop (14-11) and at halftime (26-22), but hung with the Hawks until late in the third stanza as White’s free throw and lay-in were the only points scored by the hosts in the final 2:19.
Sargeant scored a layup off a feed from Jake Pedrelli and Palucki scored in transition to close out the third quarter, and the Hawks played an almost perfect fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.