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Half a dozen different players turned in big plays for Evanston’s boys basketball team Friday night in their home opener.
That was the good news. The bad news? ETHS head coach Mike Ellis isn’t sure yet who he can count on for the NEXT game.
The Wildkits staggered past Glenbrook North in overtime, securing their first Central Suburban League South division victory by a 50-44 margin after overcoming a sluggish start and a season-high 21 turnovers, most of them self-inflicted.
Evanston improved to 6-1 on the season and 1-1 in league play after 6-foot-5 junior Prince Adams blocked two shots and scored a pair of field goals in the overtime period for the hosts.
Rashawn Bost, Jonah Ross, Yaris Irby and Isaiah Moore all took turns in the spotlight for the Kits in a defensive duel where neither combatant seemed able to score on consecutive possessions. The winners held GBN to 28% (13-of-47) shooting from the field, but failed to take complete advantage of that defensive effort by only converting 48% (13-of-27) of their own chances at the free throw line.
Talk about a mixed bag. Evanston did can four straight free throws in the last 31 seconds of OT, two each by Irby and Bost.
“I really felt like our inexperience showed a lot tonight. We didn’t play with a lot of poise,” Ellis admitted. “We had 21 turnovers and shot 48% at the free throw line, and that’s mostly mental.
“Our defense was solid against a good scoring team, and the fact that they were missing their point guard [due to injury] was a factor. Defensively we did a good job. I liked our team defense mentality because we had multiple efforts tonight and didn’t just defend the first action. And we had some big blocks from Prince in the overtime, too.
“We’re still waiting for some guys to step up. You can’t force it, but at some point there will be some separation [between starters and bench players]. Right now we just have to go with whoever is playing well. I don’t even know if we have a best five – or six or seven – players at this point. We seem to be 10-deep as a team and that might not change.”
Moore scored a career-high 11 points and also snatched 8 rebounds for the Wildkits, and Adams added 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Moore, a 6-4 senior who hardly played last season, sank all 3 of his 3-point field goal attempts and kept the hosts within striking distance with those clutch shots. He dialed long distance to give the Kits a 28-24 edge with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“ Isaiah came in and made some big shots for us tonight,” Ellis praised. “He shot it well all week in practice and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. I’m not going to tell him he can’t shoot if he’s in the flow of the game. We want to be able to count on him.
“I thought we pressed a little too much on offense tonight. Our decision-making was suspect and we didn’t value the basketball.”
A 3-point play by Bost midway through the fourth quarter gave the Kits their biggest lead (36-29) of the night, but the Spartans wouldn’t go away quietly. They actually regained the lead at 42-41 on a 3-point bucket by junior Gavin Schooley (8 points) with 18 seconds left in regulation, and when Bost split a pair of free throws with 0:02.4 on the clock, the first home crowd of the season earned some bonus basketball. Adams muscled his way for the only two baskets of the OT period and the visitors only mustered 1 point in the final 1:50. Irby, a freshman, helped put the game out of reach after missing two free throws earlier in the OT, swishing a pair with 31 seconds to play.