How tough was Evanston’s basketball team Monday?
Chicago Catholic League tough, and it doesn’t get any tougher than that.
Turning the tables on a Loyola Academy team that always plays with true grit, the Wildkits rose to the occasion after being tied at halftime and out-toughed the Ramblers for their fourth straight win.
Blake Peters’ 28 points and a defense that limited the losers 13 points in the second half combined for a 54-36 victory for the undefeated Wildkits.
Peters, who was held without a basket the last time the two programs met back in February of 2020, broke loose for 18 points in the second half, outscoring the entire Loyola team. He connected on 11-of-14 field goal attempts and also snared a team-high 7 rebounds. His 28-point output was just 2 points shy of his career high, and came against a program that has been his nemesis over the past 3 seasons.
Peters’ 3-point basket, with the visitors nursing a 28-25 lead midway through the third quarter, triggered a scoring barrage as teammates Elijah Bull (11 points) and Isaiah Holden (8) added matching treys, and then Peters finished off the 12-0 run with an old-fashioned 3-point effort that boosted the margin to 40-25 by the end of the quarter.
“Part of those (made) 3-pointers is part of Blake’s toughness,” said Evanston head coach Mike Ellis. “Making big shots when you’re open is part of your toughness. This year, we’ve put Blake in different positions and he’s not just stuck in the corner (on offense). That allows him to get more open.
“We got a lot tougher in the second half today, at both ends of the floor. We turned up our toughness. A team like Loyola feasts on teams that aren’t tough. They’re so tenacious. When you cut, and you’re not open, and you screen, and you’re not open, that’s when they count on you giving up. But when you make your shots, it’s amazing how all of that frustration is lost.”
Bull’s long rebound basket just before the halftime buzzer produced a 23-23 tie, and the Ramblers showed no signs of giving in when play resumed. Vaughn Pemberton’s drive for a score with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left kept Evanston’s lead at 26-26.
But Loyola (4-2 overall) didn’t score a single basket for the next 7 minutes, and by then the damage was done.
Sophomore Prince Adams, who earned his most extensive playing time so far this season due to starter Ola Ajiboye’s foul trouble, contributed 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots off the bench for ETHS.
The Wildkits resume action Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when they host a Central Suburban League crossover game against Maine East.