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After beating archrival New Trier on Jan. 12, the Evanston Township High School boys basketball team traveled to Glenbrook South on Jan. 19 to take on the Titans in a Central Suburban League South Conference showdown. They were looking for a fifth straight win, and they got it, prevailing by a score of 60-58.
The Wildkits led 17-10 after one quarter thanks in part to junior Jaheim Holden, freshman Blake Peters and junior Lance Jones, who combined for 14 points. In the second quarter, the Titans battled back to within two at 22-20 with 1:46 remaining in the half, but Jaheim scored five straight points as the Kits took a 27-20 lead into the intermission.
The Kits extended the lead to 29-20 on their first possession of the third quarter when senior Matt Hall converted. But after that, the Titans outscored the Kits 15-9 as the hosts battled back to make it a 38-35 game heading into the fourth quarter. The Titans would eventually tie the game at 45-45 with 3:10 remaining in regulation time, and then briefly took the lead at 50-49 with 49 seconds remaining. But on the ensuing possession Jaheim gave the Kits back the lead at 51-50. From there, the Titans once again tied it at 51-51 with a free throw with 6.7 seconds remaining. The Kits had a chance to win it at the buzzer but a long three-point attempt by Lance was no good, thus sending the game into a four-minute overtime.
In the extra session, the Kits struck first as Lance, after getting a steal on one end of the floor, went the distance and finished with a layup with 2:35 remaining to give the Kits a 53-51 lead. Blake then delivered the knockout punch as he hit a three pointer with 1:55 remaining to extend the lead to 56-51. From there, Jaheim and Blake combined to make four free throws in the final 20 seconds as the Kits held on for the 60-58 victory. This marked the Kits’ fifth straight victory as they improved to 14-3 overall and 5-1 in CSL South play.
Regarding his team’s performance, head coach Mike Ellis said, “I do not think we were very solid. Give GBS a lot of credit. I thought they did a good job of executing and for 36 minutes, they put up quality shots and we had trouble defending. Our defense was tested with their patience and their solid play on and off the ball offensively.”
The Coach added, “I thought we were too casual. We got bailed out by some timely shooting. [Senior William Harrison] Porter hit some big shots [including two three pointers in the fourth quarter], Blake hit some big shots. I just think we had a lot of opportunities in transition where we did not convert,” Coach Ellis explained. “We should have extended the lead that we had instead of allowing them to draw even. That is on us. We have to take better care of the basketball and value it more.”
The Kits were led in scoring by Jaheim, Lance, and Blake, who each scored 16 points in the victory. Regarding that trio, Coach Ellis said, “They are solid guards. We rely a lot on those guys. Those guys are going to be solid for us pretty much game in and game out. They played how we expected them to play [against GBS].”
Even though his team did not play as well as he probably would have liked, Coach Ellis was pleased with how the Kits found a way to win and did not panic when the pressure was on late in the game. “We found a way to win down the stretch. We put it in the right hands of the right guys to knock in four for four at the free throw line to close it out,” the Coach said. “We did not panic. That is one of the things that I thought we did [well] was, when they fought back and tied it and had some momentum, we did not panic.”
After the GBS game, the Kits attempted to make it six wins in a row on Jan. 20 when they took on DePaul Prep as part of the When Sides Collide Shootout at Glenbard East. But that was not in the cards as they fell to DePaul Prep 59-52. Lance led the Kits’ scoring attack with 22 points. The Kits were held to just seven points in the third quarter and were outrebounded by a 39-24 margin as they fell to 14-4 overall.
Next up, the Kits return to Beardsley Gym at ETHS to take on Maine South on Jan. 26. The next day they play Geneva as part of the War on the Shore at Loyola Academy. From there, they take on Niles North on Feb. 2 in Evanston.