Evanston’s basketball team exploded for 28 points in the second quarter Friday night and overpowered Niles West for a 74-51 Central Suburban League South division triumph at Beardsley Gym.
A remarkable performance on the offensive glass — the Wildkits were credited with a staggering 21 offensive rebounds — powered the hosts to their 11th victory in 17 outings and helped them maintain a tie for the division league with Maine South and New Trier, all at 4-1.
ETHS big men Dylan Mulvihill (6) and Elijah Henry (5) accounted for half of those offensive boards against a Niles West (5-9 overall, 1-4 CSL South) that just couldn’t match up underneath.
“It was a little bit of a size mismatch, a little bit of desire — that was certainly good to see — and a little bit the fact that we missed a lot of easy baskets on our first and second shots,” pointed out Evanston coach Mike Ellis. “With the tough stretch of games we have coming up, we have to convert those shots.”
For the game, the hosts outrebounded Niles West 49-28. Evanston scored six field goals on putbacks in the first half, opened up a 42-24 advantage by the halftime intermission and never looked back. Xhavier Hillard’s 12 points, 3 assists and 2 steals and Nojel Eastern’s 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals paced the Wildkits.
Elijah Williams came off the bench and netted 9 points and Mulvihill contributed 8 for the Wildkits as 13 different players scored for the winners.
Evanston is tied for the league lead at the midway point of the race even though Ellis wasn’t sure where his young squad would fit in entering the season.
The veteran coach is still taking things one game at a time even though the Kits have won their last two CSL South games by lopsided margins.
“To be honest, I can’t think about a big picture. Things will take care of themselves,” said Ellis. “All I’m thinking about right now is that New Trier (next up on the schedule) is a way different team than when we played them the first time, and that’s a focused and angry New Trier team that will be coming into Beardsley Gym next Friday night. I know that will be a hard-fought, tough game for us.”