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Effort and toughness have helped the Evanston basketball program score numerous victories over teams they weren’t “supposed” to beat over the years.

That combination delivered a historic turnaround Tuesday night at Beardsley Gym.

After losing at Maine South by 17 points on Jan. 7, the Wildkits turned the tables on the Hawks with a 40-point romp to punctuate a historic Senior Night.

It’s doubtful that any ETHS team over the years has staged such a dramatic turnaround against the same foe within the same season. The Wildkits achieved their 69-29 trouncing with a running clock in the fourth quarter and improved to 16-8 for the season.

Evanston scored more points in the first half – 41 – than in the entire first game (37), then held the Hawks without a field goal for a whopping 10-and-a-half minutes in the second half of the Central Suburban League South division blowout win.

No one who watched the first contest believed Maine South (14-10 overall) was really 17 points better than the Kits, but a 40-point victory in the rematch was also beyond belief.

It was an inspired group of seniors who made it happen Tuesday night. David Gieser’s 19 points matched his season high, Rashawn Bost added 13 points and Isaiah Moore notched 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists for the winners. Evanston shot 59% (26 of 44) from the floor while forcing 18 Maine South turnovers.

Nine of those miscues came against pressure in the first quarter, when the Wildkits bolted to a commanding 29-6 lead and never looked back. It was 41-18 at halftime and 56-21 after three quarters.

“Our effort and toughness were better tonight, and that made a huge difference,” pointed out Evanston head coach Mike Ellis. “I know they were disappointed in the way they’ve been playing, in the way they’ve been representing the community, and they knew they had to pick it up. That was the driving force tonight. We need to play that hard every night.

“We made shots tonight and that helped. It was great to see the way everyone stepped up. Our defense was solid – I thought we were more connected, more in sync, more anticipatory – and we played with a purpose.”

Evanston’s last home appearance of the season couldn’t have started any better. The Kits broke out to a 10-0 lead behind 5 points by Gieser, a 3-point play by Bost and Moore’s layup on an inbound feed from Gieser.

Three-point baskets by Bost, Aidan Maher and Emery Jones pushed the lead to 26-4 and that put the Hawks into desperation mode trying to catch up.

Gieser, who slumped during the month of January, rediscovered his shooting stroke and fired in 5-of-8 three-point attempts. He also added 4 steals.

“It was really good to see David get going like that. We need him and Rashawn to score,” said Ellis. “[Assistant] coach Dante Johnson shared the Steve Kerr quote with the kids about how if you move the basketball, it will find the guy it’s supposed to find, and that’s how you get your best looks. That’s what happened tonight. You don’t just look for one guy.

“Tonight was a matter of pride for the seniors, playing in their last home game, and it will stick with us. We approached this game in the right frame of mind, and that was the key.”

Evanston will host the E-Town Showdown doubleheader Friday at Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena against New Trier. The girls varsity game will start at 6 p.m., with the boys game to follow. Tickets are still available.

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