Wildkit Isaiah Moore (No. 12) goes up for a rebound in first-half action against Glenbrook South. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

One of the biggest myths connected to high school basketball is the one that cites the difficulty of beating the same team three times in a given season.

In reality, it happens all the time – especially when one team is superior to the other.

Glenbrook South, which has never won a sectional championship in the history of the boys program, took one big step closer to that goal by whipping Evanston Township High School for the third time this season Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Class 4A GBS Sectional tournament.

In front of a standing-room-only crowd, the Titans built a 20-point lead in the second quarter and breezed to a 69-53 victory behind the one-two punch of Nick Martinelli (26 points) and Cooper Noard (18).

Evanston’s Yaris Irby drives the lane to the basket at Tuesday night’s game. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

The loss ended Evanston’s season at 21-10 overall, despite a career-high 21 points from senior guard Rashawn Bost. GBS, now 32-2, will face either New Trier or Rolling Meadows for the sectional title on Friday.

“This was a game we had to win 53-48. Our goal, like against every team, was to try to hold them under 50 points,” said Evanston head coach Mike Ellis. “But we dug ourselves too deep of a hole defensively, and anybody could see that their two All-Staters were the difference in the game.”

Evanston’s Yaris Irby (No. 25) attempts a basket against Glenbrook South. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

The Titans, who scored 70 and 56 points in two regular-season triumphs over the Wildkits, shot 59% from the field Tuesday. There was no stopping Martinelli, although Evanston tried six different defenders against him, including just-promoted sophomore Antoine Thomas by the fourth quarter.

The 6-foot-7 Martinelli sank 11-of-14 field goal attempts, grabbed six rebounds and also blocked three shots for the winners. “He even scored when we triple-teamed him,” said Ellis with a grimace. “We just weren’t sharp tonight. We didn’t play with the [defensive] foundations we have, and good players like those two will break your foundations, too.”

The visitors slipped into a familiar postseason pattern, but unlike in regional tournament wins over Schaumburg (down 8-0) and Glenbrook North (down 5-0), the Kits couldn’t come back from a first-quarter deficit of 19-8.

GBS pushed the lead to 33-13 with 3 minutes left in the first half.

“We got hit with a couple of haymakers right out of the gate, but our guys didn’t hang their heads,” Ellis said. “They pressed on and didn’t play to the scoreboard. I can’t fault our effort. Still, we didn’t make plays that were right in front of us to be made, and GBS did.

“We had two points of emphasis coming into the game, to limit their transitions and limit them in the paint, and we just didn’t get it done.”

Evanston’s Emery Jones (No. 33) scrambles for a loose ball in the third quarter of the Glenbrook South game. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

Following Noard’s usual one good quarter against ETHS – he scored 10 points in the second period and had just one bucket after that – the Wildkits did pull to within 43-31 at the 4:35 mark of the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Bost.

But Martinelli made sure the Kits got no closer, scoring a pair of field goals and assisting Gavin Marr (11 points) on a pair of layups to restore order – and a 53-31 lead – for the Titans.

Bost was the only Evanston player to notch double figures, sinking 8-of-17 field goal attempts. The rest of the Wildkits combined were just 13-of-41 from the floor, and that included a late flurry when South’s reserves were on the court.

“You’ve got to give Rashawn credit, but it takes more than one guy to take down two All-Staters,” Ellis said. “He needed to have a little more support. I’m really happy for him, that he can look back at his last high school game and say, ‘I really gave it my all.’ It’s that moment in the season when you know your career will continue, or it will end, and I know no matter who we were playing he would have had that intensity.”

ETHS head coach Mike Ellis discusses plans during a timeout late in the March 1 game against Glenbrook South. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

Ellis often described the season as a “roller coaster” and the veteran tutor turned in one of the best coaching jobs of his tenure at ETHS during the 2021-22 campaign. The list of team accomplishments included 21 wins, a regional championship, a Thanksgiving tournament championship and a runner-up finish at the Centralia Holiday Tournament.

None of that seemed likely in the preseason. But Ellis and his staff molded a squad that only had one returning starter from a year ago – Bost – and whose only all-conference player was a transfer – senior David Gieser – into a stout defensive unit that kept the Wildkits in every game.

Glenbrook South head coach Phil Ralston talks with Evanstons’s Rashawn Bost after the ETHS loss. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

“It was a challenge, because a lot of our focus was just on trying to build solid habits,” he said. “And at times we let some of those bad habits creep back in. That’s why it was a roller coaster. I just hope the seniors, when they go to college, and the others when they come back understood that what they do off the floor is just as important as what they do on the floor. There’s a definite carryover there.

“There were a lot of good moments for us this year. We didn’t have one player who was selfish and I cherish the fact that every single one of them put the others on the team before themselves. That’s not always the case, even on good teams.

“I’m grateful I was able to spend the last eight months with them.”

Evanston players line up to shake hands with their competitors March 1 after their loss to Glenbrook South. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

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