Good defense leads to good offense. That’s one of the principles Evanston basketball coach Mike Ellis believes in, and that’s the lesson he tries to teach his players every winter.
Lance Jones, Ryan Bost and Jaheim Holden have clearly been paying attention. The three sophomores combined for 13 of Evanston’s 20 total steals Friday night as the Wildkits overwhelmed New Trier 65-33 in front of a capacity crowd at Beardsley Gymnasium.
Evanston completed a sweep of the regular season home-and-home series between the two rivals in the 5th annual Bob Bost Basketball Classic, an event that honors the coaching legacy of the late Evanston assistant coach who passed away in 2012. And it was only fitting that his grandson Ryan played a key role as the Wildkits ran their record to 19-3 overall, 8-0 in Central Suburban League South division play.
Evanston’s guards attacked New Trier’s ball handlers from the moment the Trevians stepped off their team bus, forcing 9 turnovers in the first quarter as the Kits blazed their way to a 26-7 advantage. Not known for fast starts this season — they’ve trailed after the first quarter in a half a dozen of their games to date — Ellis’ crew kept the heat on en route to a shocking 46-11 halftime lead.
Jones, Bost and Holden have taken turns as starters all season and it wasn’t necessarily defensive specialist Bost’s turn to start Friday night.
But Bost’s teammates knew it was the right thing for him to share the starting spotlight, according to Ellis.
“This was Ryan’s night tonight,” Ellis said. “It was actually Jaheim’s turn to start, but he spoke up at a team meeting before the game and said he wanted to give up his spot for Ryan. I think that set the tone for us in that first half. We did a solid job on defense and led to scoring opportunities for us on offense.
“My first year here at Evanston, Bob Bost took me in and showed me the ropes about what CSL basketball is and he introduced me to the history of Evanston basketball. I’ll be forever grateful to him for that. But we didn’t hand the start to Ryan tonight, he earned it. He was our leader in practice all week and he showed up all week to get to play this game.”
“We just concentrated on defense tonight and tried to play our game,” said the youngest Bost. “My grandfather was a major influence on me. I remember how he picked me up at pre-school every morning, and going over to his house all the time. He didn’t coach me much — but he coached my Dad, so basically he coached me too. It was huge to see how much he meant to everyone here and to see everyone cheering like that.”
Evanston’s fans were treated to their team’s best half of the season as Jones (12 points, 6 steals, 5 assists) and Bost (4 points, 5 steals) made life miserable for any backcourt combination New Trier coach Scott Fricke tried.
Nojel Eastern, who didn’t start because he missed practice due to a case of the flu, led the winners with 15 points and Chris Hamil added 8. Andrew Kirkpatrick led New Trier, now 11-10, with 8 points.