Frigid shooting from beyond the 3-point arc cost Evanston’s basketball team a chance to at least share the Central Suburban League South division title Friday night.
Instead, defending champion Maine South clinched at least a tie for the crown with two weeks remaining in the regular season after handing the Wildkits a 46-39 defeat in Park Ridge. That total matched Evanston’s season low, as they also tallied 39 points in a November loss to Mount Carmel.
Evanston (16-7 overall, 6-2 league) sank just 4-of-26 attempts from 3-point range and couldn’t overcome abysmal shooting against the Hawks’ 3-2 zone. Maine South improved to 18-5 and 8-0, respectively, behind double figure performances from George Sargeant (14 points), sophomore Jon Arenas (14) and Andrew Palucki (10).
Reserves Marcus Johnson and C.J. Singletary led ETHS with 11 and 10 points, respectively, but the visitors never could get untracked and never led while losing to the Hawks for the second time this season.
“Maine South beat us mentally tonight,” said Evanston coach Mike Ellis. “Shooting is mental, and we weren’t locked in like we needed to be tonight. Our (3-point) looks were uncontested for the most part. But our mental preparation for this game was not at the level it needed to be. Shooting is confidence, and if you put in the effort and put in the work, you’ll get what you deserve. But when you take shortcuts, you won’t get results.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket tonight. Just before we went into halftime we were only down 3 points or so, and we fell asleep for two minutes, had some defensive lapses and all of a sudden we’re down 6. And it felt like 12.”
Evanston didn’t score in the final 2 minutes, 38 seconds of the first half while Maine South tallied the last five points for an 18-12 advantage. The hosts led 25-19 after three quarters.
A 3-point basket by Johnson pulled the Kits within 31-25 with 3:46 left in the game, but that was as close as they got.
Senior guard Will Jones, the team’s leading scorer, picked up two personal fouls early in the contest and finished with just 2 points.
“Those two fouls took him out of the game early on, and it hurts to have him sitting on the bench and just watching like that,” Ellis said. “He’s our leading scorer, and one of our better shooters. And we needed more shots to fall tonight.
“I thought C.J. Singletary played very well for us tonight coming off the bench. He was steady at both ends of the floor for us. He played solid and he played strong.”
Evanston hosts undefeated Fremd Saturday at Beardsley Gym in a non-conference game.