The Evanston Township High School boys’ basketball team took on Maine South on Feb. 17 with hopes of finishing Central Suburban League South Conference play with a perfect record. The Wildkits were able to do just that as they beat the Hawks 57-49 on Senior Night at Beardsley Gym in Evanston.
In that game, senior Elyjah Williams set the tone early as he scored eight of the Kits 17 points to give them a 17-11 lead through the first quarter. Then in the second quarter, the Kits took a 30-20 lead into the intermission, thanks in part to sophomore Ryan Bost scoring 11 points in the quarter.
From there, the Kits outscored the Hawks 17-10 to take a 47-30 lead into the fourth quarter. But the Hawks did not go down quietly, as they got to within nine at 50-41 with 3 minutes 51 seconds remaining. But fortunately, senior Nojel Eastern helped secure the victory, scoring the Kits’ next seven points as they held on for the 57-49 victory.
“Defensively, Maine South was in a rhythm, scoring-wise, so we just wanted to keep possession of the ball for as long as we could down the stretch,” explained Head Coach Mike Ellis. “We had mismatches when we opened up the floor. I felt like we did not play disciplined enough, but we did get some positive plays with Nojel being able to control the game.”
The Kits were led in scoring by Ryan and Nojel, who each finished with 11 points. Elyjah added 10 points, and senior Chris Hamil chipped in with eight. With the victory, the Kits improved to 22-3 overall and finished 10-0 in CSL South Conference play.
“It is a nice accomplishment [going 10-0 in CSL South play], but it was not ever a goal of ours,” said Coach Ellis. “I think they feel like they have their sights set on other things. It is a great accomplishment for our seniors to make it so far this year with one game remaining [the CSL Crossover game on Feb. 22], and not to lose a (divisional) game at Beardsley Gym is special.”
Regarding Ryan’s performance, Coach Ellis said, “Ryan played well. He came out and did a nice job of coming in and giving us some energy on defense and putting pressure on the basketball.” The Coach continued, “It is amazing how that works. When you play solid defense, usually you are the guy that does well on offense, and that is what happened to Ryan.”
When asked how he felt his team played on defense, Coach Ellis said, “I thought our defense was up and down. We had some holes, we made some plays, and we made some mistakes. That is a hard team to guard, as they run a very structured offense. It is a tricky balance with being disciplined and not giving up easy shots and also applying pressure at the same time.”
The night after the victory over Maine South, the Kits took on Simeon. Prior to that matchup, Coach Ellis said, “We had some trouble playing our best last year (against them). We are thankful for second opportunity this year. Hopefully, our guys show up with a little more focus.”
The Kits certainly were more focused this time around. They prevailed 56-38. Senior Malcolm Townsel scored a game-high 20 points to pace the Kits, while Chris added 15 points as the Kits improved to 23-3 overall.
The Kits participated in the CSL Showcase game last night, the day this paper went to press. From there, they participate in the IHSA Niles West Regional semifinals against the winner of Niles West and Maine East on Feb. 28. If they win that game, they will play for the Regional title on March 3.