Lance Jones’ unselfish play on the court for Evanston’s basketball team this season paid off for the senior guard Saturday.
Jones earned an extra minute of playing time in another blowout win for the Wildkits, and reached a career plateau as a result.
Jones dropped in a career-high 30 points as the Wildkits crushed Saint Joseph 71-38 at Beardsley Gym and improved to 8-1 on the season.
The Southern Illinois University-bound Jones actually outscored the entire Chargers team — 28 to 27 — over the first three quarters and usually wouldn’t have gotten back on the court for head coach Mike Ellis.
But the fact that Jones played less than 8 minutes the previous night, fouling out against Niles North, made Ellis relent until he reached his 30th point on a short jumper in the lane. After that tally, he went to the bench and watched the reserves finish out another running clock triumph for ETHS.
“I asked him if I could go back in just long enough to get to 30,” admitted a sheepish Jones, who shot 12-of-18 from the field and added 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. “Just for a minute or so, to see if I could do it.
“My Dad told me after last night just to keep a steady head and stay focused. I was kinda frustrated because of some of the calls in the Niles North game (he was whistled for two offensive fouls) and with the moves I made to get those calls. The one spin move I had where Myles Davis drew an offensive foul was a foul. The others? I don’t think so.
“Tonight I was just going with what was working, and the lane kept opening up for me. My teammates kept finding me, and I really thank them for that.”
Ellis took Jones’ career night in stride.
“Lance was solid tonight,” agreed the veteran coach. “He didn’t get to play a lot last night, and it was good to see him understand that tonight’s a new night with new opportunities. He didn’t force a lot of things and he let the game come to him. He didn’t let his frustrations carry over to another night.
“But when you have a Division I point guard who has been on the varsity three years, a high school game is supposed to be like that for them. So we’re not in shock and awe over what happened tonight. This is what we expect from Lance. He only played a few minutes last night, and he deserved to have his weekend (on the court) last a little longer.”
St. Joseph, which almost defeated the Kits last year before melting down in the second half, couldn’t keep up with Jones or senior teammates Ryan Bost (12 points, 3 steals) and Jaheim Holden (11 points, 6 assists). The hosts plodded their way to an 18-13 lead midway through the second quarter, then used a scoring burst of 18-4 to pull away to a 36-17 advantage at halftime.
Jones contributed 6 points in that run, including an offensive rebound for a score off his own missed free throw.
ETHS pushed the lead to 61-27 after three quarters with another explosive run, this one consisting of 13 straight points as part of an overall 17-4 spurt.