Extra shooting practice and a career-best performance from senior center Jack Tully helped Evanston’s basketball team stretch its winning streak to three in a row Saturday at Beardsley Gym.
The Wildkits shot a sizzling 60% (26-of-43) from the field, led by Tully’s career-high 15 points, and trimmed Oak Park-River Forest 72-59 in a non-conference contest. The victory concluded a three-game sweep for the Wildkits in the third week of January as they improved to 14-6 on the season.
Tully, Rashawn Bost (15 points) and David Gieser (11) lifted the Kits to one of their most productive offensive efforts on the season. That showing came after a stretch in which the Kits had failed to score more than 52 points in their last five games.
It also came after head coach Mike Ellis had his team put up a lot of shots in practice between Friday night’s win over Niles West and the matinee game Saturday versus the Huskies.
“We made good decisions and we took the same shots we took Friday. We were just a little more focused,” said the ETHS coach. “I think there was a great lesson there, to understand the value of the way we play comes from the work that we put into it.
“We’ve done [extra drills] before and I think our guys wanted to prove they had a united agenda to be more productive.”
Tully converted 6-of-9 field goal attempts and had 4 rebounds for the winners. Another ETHS “big,” Emery Jones, chipped in with a solid defensive performance against OPRF standout Justin Mullins. The Huskies’ star needed 22 shots to score his game-high 21 points, with Jones drawing that defensive assignment for most of his 20 minutes on the floor for the Kits.
“Jack Tully was the key for us tonight,” said Ellis. “He was definitely the player of the game. He made big baskets and got big rebounds whenever Oak Park made a run and he did a good job of protecting the paint for us. He plays fewer minutes than any of the other starters, and he never complains when he doesn’t get many touches in the paint, but he really came through in this game.”
Evanston broke out to a 24-15 first quarter lead and was never really challenged after that despite being out-rebounded 30-24. “We’ve talked a lot about how important the month of January is for us,” Ellis added. “We took a little bit of a step back for awhile there, but I think we’re moving in the right direction now.”