Evanston’s basketball team threw a big scare into unbeaten Palatine Fremd Saturday night at Beardsley Gym.
But two missed free throws by the Wildkits in the final 35 seconds of regulation play opened the door a crack for a comeback, and the Vikings recorded their 20th straight victory with a 54-51 overtime triumph.
Fremd trailed 45-41 in the final minute, but forced an overtime period when Xavier Williams swished a 3-point shot at the buzzer. Still, the Vikings couldn’t breathe easy until Evanston’s Will Jones hit the back iron on his 3-point attempt at the end of the overtime period.
Evanston fell to 16-8 on the season despite double figure performances from four players and despite out-rebounding the bigger Vikings by a decisive 34-22 margin. Marcus Johnson showed the way for ETHS with 12 points and 8 rebounds, backed by Jackson Mihevc (11 points), Jones (10) and C.J. Singletary (10).
Fremd’s Riley Glassman led all scorers with 20 points, including nine in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
“If we could’ve made one of those two free throws, we’d have had them,” admitted ETHS coach Mike Ellis. “But we really competed against a team where we were out-sized at every single position. The kids battled and really came back strong after a disappointing effort against Maine South (Friday night).
“They just hit a big 3 when they needed to make a play, and that’s what undefeated teams do. We needed to make their kid (Williams) put the ball on the floor, put more pressure on him and just give him a driving lane, because in that situation he wasn’t going to go to the basket.”
Williams’ trey was only the third 3-pointer of the game for the winners, whose starting lineup averaged 6-foot-5. In the OT, Fremd scored the first six points, but Evanston wouldn’t quit. Johnson tossed in a 3-pointer to keep it a one-possession game, and Mihevc’s trey with 18 seconds remaining kept the deficit at 53-51.
Fremd’s Ben Carlson split a pair of bonus free throw attempts with 16 seconds showing on the clock, giving ETHS one more chance to tie. But Jones’ 20-footer bounced off the back iron.