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The Evanston Township High School boys’ basketball team took on Central Suburban League South Conference foe Niles North on Feb.1 in search of their fourth win in a row, which they captured on the road by a score of 79-65.
The host Vikings gave the Wildkits all they could handle as the teams played to a 15-13 score, in favor of the Kits, after one quarter. The Vikings would take an 18-15 lead from there with 6:18 remaining in the second quarter. But the Kits responded in a big way as they outscored the Vikings 15-3 to close out the second quarter, making it 30-21 at the half. During that run, seniors Lance Jones and Jaheim Holden combined for 11 points to help build their lead.
To open the third quarter, the Kits’ lead would grow to 37-21 with 6:46 remaining, thanks to Lance, Jaheim, and sophomore Blake Peters combining for the seven point outburst. But the Vikings refused to quit as they went on an 11-2 run to make it 39-32 with 4:10 remaining in the quarter. Fortunately, the Kits responded once again as they went on a 13-3 run, capped off by a shot by Lance with 1:47 remaining, making it 52-35. The Kits closed out the third with a 54-41 lead and cruised to the 79-65 victory from there.
“I thought we played very well as a team. We found a lot of opportunities through each other instead of by ourselves,” said head coach Mike Ellis. “I thought we scored a lot of points, but defensively, giving up 65, you run the risk of losing that game. So, thankfully we played well on offense, had balanced scoring, took good shots, missed some good shots, but they were all good shots. So you can live with that as a coach.”
After a relatively close first half, Coach Ellis was pleased with his team’s ability to build a significant lead in the second half. “We talked about coming out strong at the half, and I thought they did a good job of doing that,” explained the Coach. “They felt like they could have finished some plays off in the first half, but they did not. But then in the second half, I thought they made good on a lot of those opportunities.”
With the victory, the Kits improved to 22-4 overall and 7-1 in Central Suburban L eague South Conference play. Leading the Kits’ scoring attack was Lance, who scored 22 points, Jaheim tallied 17 points, to go with five assists, and five steals, while Blake poured in 16 points. In addition, sophomore Louis Lesmond added 12 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Regarding the performances of Lance, Jaheim and Blake, Coach Ellis said, “They were real steady. I thought, in a road game. With their experience, they knew what it takes to win on the road in the CSL. So it was good to see our leaders who are supposed to play well [go out and] play well.”
The day after the Niles North game, the Kits visited Oak Park River Forest and prevailed by a score of 79-69. With the victory, they improved to 23-4 overall.
When asked what the keys to victory will be over the course of the final three games of the regular season and in the postseason, Coach Ellis said, “We want to be accelerating our game. We do not want to be going through peaks and valleys, having a good game and then having a bad game. We want to be trending upwards with a steady incline of progression with our performance.”
Next up, the Kits take on Niles West on Feb. 8, followed by matchups with archrival New Trier on Feb. 15 and then Maine East on Feb. 19 to close out the regular season.