On Feb. 12, the Evanston Township High School boys’ basketball team beat Central Suburban League South Conference rival Glenbrook South by a score of 73-38. The win was the Kits’ 13th straight as they improved to 21-2 overall and 9-0 in CSL South play. Against GBS, junior Nojel Eastern led the Kits with 17 points, three rebounds and three assists. Senior Charlie Maxwell scored nine points, while senior Trevon Marshall, junior Jerome Bynum and senior Dylan Mulvihill each scored eight points in the victory.
The Kits then went for a 14th straight win on Feb. 19 against Maine South, but unfortunately they came up short, falling to the Hawks by a score of 61-55, despite a career-high 28-point effort from Nojel. The defeat was the Kits’ first since falling to Brentwood (Tenn.) on Dec. 21 in the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic. With the loss, the Kits record fell to 21-3 overall, and they finished CSL South play with a 9-1 record, which earned them their second straight CSL South Conference title.
From there, the Kits looked to get back in the win column when they took on Simeon on Feb. 20 in the City Suburban Showdown at Lyons Township. But that was not in the cards, as the Kits fell to the Wolverines 55-43. In that game, the Kits’ struggled to get going offensively the entire game, making just 13 of their 58 total shot attempts as they fell for the second straight game. The loss dropped the Kits record to 21-4 overall.
“I think the energy was there, but the focus was not,” said head coach Mike Ellis regarding his team’s performance against Simeon. “I thought the guys came out and played hard, we just did not play as smart as we needed to against a solid team like Simeon.”
Against Simeon, Nojel finished with a team-high nine points followed by Dylan, who scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Charlie chipped in seven points. “Charlie stepped up and had a solid game and Dylan played solid again,” said Coach Ellis when asked what positives he took away from that game. “(Dylan) had the flu and missed a few days of practice so he was a little rusty [against Maine South] but he improved tremendously from one night to the next. So to get him healthy again will be big for us.” The Coach added, “(Sophomore) Dravon Clayborn [also] played pretty solid in his first start.”
In order for the Kits to bounce back from two straight losses, Coach Ellis feels it will come down to regaining their rhythm in practice and simply making shots. “We just have to get back in the gym and get some work in. I think a lot of it is going to come down to getting some rhythm. We played well at times [over the last two games] but we had open shots that we did not knock in,” the Coach explained. “So it is just a matter of getting back in the gym and getting that rhythm and trying to gain some momentum going forward.”
Looking forward, the Kits were set to finish the regular season against Deerfield on Feb. 23. From there, the Kits, who earned the No. 1 seed in the IHSA Class 4A Glenbrook South Sectional, will participate in the Warren Regionals on March 1 against the winner of the Warren-Glenbrook South contest. Should the Kits win that game, they would play for the Regional title on March 4.
“We feel like we have to show up and play our best in the Regional. We open with the winner of Warren and GBS at Warren. GBS is familiar with us if we play them, and Warren is a really solid team in their gym if we play them to open up, so we know our Regional is going to be challenging.” The Coach added, “They just have to take it one game at a time each and every night. We just have to play with intensity and passion. That is going to be the key to our game and how hard we play, (as) that has always been the key for us all year.”
If the Kits can continue to play with the same intensity and passion they have throughout the year, there is no telling how far this team can go in the postseason.