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Even with an abbreviated schedule in effect this year, Evanston basketball coach Mike Ellis didn’t change his approach to certain Central Suburban League crossover games.
Like he did last year, Ellis decided to rest his front-line players and give the Wildkit reserves an opportunity to make a good impression Tuesday night against Maine East.
And — just like last year — Ethan Kye took advantage of that opportunity.
Kye poured in a career-high 15 points to set the tone for the Kits in a 77-21 drilling of the Blue Demons as Evanston improved to 5-0 on the season overall.
Kye, a senior co-captain, connected on 5 3-point baskets to better his previous career high of 11 points, also coming last year versus Maine East. Teammates Mackenzie Brewer (13 points) and Aidan Maher (10) also achieved career bests, as did senior Logan Talmage with his 7 rebounds and 7 points.
Maine East mustered only 5 points in the second half, even though Evanston’s usual starters — Blake Peters, Isaiah Holden, Elijah Bull and Rashawn Bost — played zero minutes and never got out of their chairs except to cheer on their teammates.
“The crossover games don’t really matter for the agenda we have on the season this year,” said Ellis. “These are good games for teaching lessons, not just to the starters but for everyone from 1 through 20 (on the roster). There are a lot of little teaching points to show guys how things should carry over from practice to the games. We tried to emphasize those little details tonight.
“I thought they did a nice job of sharing the ball tonight, and nobody tried to do too much, as sometimes happens in a game like that. We had 18 assists on 30 field goals. And I thought the way Ethan Kye came out hot really helped the rest of them settle in.”
Kye fired in four straight shots from beyond the 3-point arc to start the host team on its way to an 18-8 first quarter advantage. Evanston stretched the lead to 45-16 at halftime and 67-18 after three quarters, when the running clock went into effect due to the lopsided score.
Kye only played 11 minutes himself and added a couple of assists to his stat line. He sank 5-of-9 field goal attempts and he’s probably the second best 3-point shooter on the squad, behind only Peters.
But the senior sharpshooter has been stuck behind more talented players coming through the program, a fact that his head coach appreciates.
“On another team, in another graduating class, he could be a starter,” Ellis noted. “He comes into practice every day like he’s our leading scorer, that’s how hard he works. He’s one of our four captains this year because he exemplifies leadership, in terms of how he thinks of others before yourself.”
Evanston hosts Glenbrook North on Friday and will travel to play the Spartans again on Saturday when CSL South division action resumes.