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Evanston’s dreams of an undefeated basketball season disappeared in a shooting nightmare Friday night at Beardsley Gym.
Now, they’ll have to defeat Glenbrook South in a rematch on Saturday if they hope to earn at least a share of another Central Suburban League South division championship.
The Wildkits shot only 33 percent in the second half of a 61-55 loss to the Titans and suffered their first loss of the season. Now 8-1 overall and 4-1 in league play, the Kits led 29-25 at halftime before the visitors turned the tables on them.
Of the biggest concern to ETHS head coach Mike Ellis was the fact that the tables were turned on a veteran team in the toughness department.
“We got outplayed the whole game. Glenbrook South played with more poise and more toughness than we did,” Ellis said. “They got solid play at the point guard, they hurt us around the basket, and they made shots.
“We got to the basket and we didn’t finish our shots. We didn’t get into any rhythm tonight on offense. We were good on defense in the first two quarters, but in the second half they took it to us, instead of us taking it to them. When we play them tomorrow we have to be tougher. We have to show more toughness and complete the plays when they’re in front of you.”
South, now 10-0 overall, relied on the 1-2 punch of Cooper Noard (18 points) and Nick Martinelli (15) while shooting 59 percent from the floor as a team.
Evanston’s shooting woes from 3-point range continued, as the hosts converted only 2-of-16 and sharpshooter Blake Peters went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. Peters scored a game-high 24 points to keep the Kits within striking distance in the final quarter, but has only converted one 3-point basket in his last 3 games.
His drive with 58 seconds left in the game pulled the Wildkits close for the last time, down 56-53, but GBS solved the pressure defense for a layup and 3 free throws to seal the verdict.
“We had good looks, and Blake had some shots that he normally makes,” Ellis said. “We do rely on him to score. But as a coach, all you can say is that he’ll do it the next game. We’re certainly not going to take any opportunities away from him. It’s not a concern for me.”
Elijah Bull added 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals for the losers. The hard-nosed senior guard made life difficult for Noard in the first half, allowing the talented junior just 5 shot attempts, to help the Kits keep the high-scoring Titans in check. GBS entered the contest averaging 70 points per game.