One glance at the stat sheet told Evanston head basketball coach Mike Ellis all he needed to know about Monday’s rematch with state-ranked New Trier.
“We had six guys who had as many or more turnovers than rebounds,” Ellis said. “We got beat on the boards and we didn’t value the basketball. And 38 points is not going to win many games against a team as good as New Trier.”
The Wildkits endured another long scoreless streak in the third quarter — this one lasted exactly five and a half minutes — and bowed to the Trevians 55-38 in a game played at the New Trier West campus in Northfield.
Eight straight “empty” possessions in that third period, consisting of five missed field goal attempts and four turnovers, sealed Evanston’s fate and dropped the Kits to 17-9 overall, 4-5 in Central Suburban League South division play.
Ellis’ squad still hasn’t won a road game in conference play and only has one more chance, Friday at Niles West.
New Trier’s combination of man-to-man and 1-3-1 zone defense was more effective than in last Friday’s 62-55 ETHS win at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Trevians, now 25-3, bounced back behind 6-foot-8 Jackson Munro’s 19 points and 10 rebounds, plus 17 points from Noah Shannon.
Evanston couldn’t find any answers offensively and only Rashawn Bost reached double figures, with 10 points. The visitors shot 14-of-44 from the field, but only 1-of-9 in the third quarter when the outcome was still in doubt.
Evanston’s turnover total (14) might not have seemed high to the estimated 2,000 spectators in attendance at the West gym, which has hosted Trevian games since the gym at the East campus was shut down for rebuilding in December. Monday’s game was actually a makeup contest, as the two rivals were supposed to meet in the final game of December at the East gym before the coronavirus pandemic caused a postponement.
But the timing of those turnovers – and the fact that ETHS again reverted to form on offense where they’re often their own worst enemy – was the key to another defeat.
“You can’t make a shot when you’re turning the ball over,” Ellis pointed out. “In two of the last eight quarters we’ve played we got all the way to four points. We weren’t efficient tonight on offense. Instead of playing downhill, there was too much side-to-side play and we didn’t put them in position where they had to make plays with their switching defense.
“New Trier did a great job of coming out and making us feel uncomfortable. When things aren’t going well, like in the third quarter, we have to play smarter and execute better. We had plenty of opportunities, but give New Trier credit because they made us uncomfortable.”
With Munro showing the way, New Trier earned a 27-23 halftime lead, outscoring the visitors 9-5 in the last four minutes of the second quarter. Evanston’s last lead came at 21-20 on a three-point basket by Isaiah Moore, his only bucket of the game.
The Kits stumbled in the third period and allowed the hosts to build an insurmountable 45-27 advantage entering the last stanza.
Evanston missed an opportunity to add to its postseason resume, as coaches in the Class 4A Glenbrook South sectional tournament complex will seed the field on Wednesday. Glenbrook South, Rolling Meadows and New Trier seem like locks for the top three spots.
“I’d like to play New Trier again, because that would mean we are in the sectional [Final Four],” noted Ellis. “We just have to keep playing better and we need more production from our big three [Bost, David Gieser and the post combination of Jack Tully/Prince Adams]. Those guys have to step up and we have to find easier ways to score.”