Local sportswriters referred to it as a “Jon Scheyer quarter” in the days when Scheyer reigned as Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois.

That term described an eruption for double figure points in an eight-minute stretch, usually accompanied by a flurry of 3-point baskets for the former Glenbrook North High School star.

Credit: ETHS

Scheyer’s heyday was before Jonah Ross was even born. But Saturday in the final round of the 45th annual Saint Viator Thanksgiving Classic tournament, Ross had a Jon Scheyer quarter.

Ross exploded for 16 points in the third quarter – on his way to a career-high 22 points – as the Wildkits routed host Saint Viator 63-45 and four-peated as tourney champion. The Evanston senior fired in seven-of-eight attempts from 3-point range and led the Kits to their fourth straight triumph.

It marked the fifth title for Evanston in six tournament appearances and the Wildkits have only lost once in the tourney since they first entered the round-robin event in 2016.

Ross, Prince and Ephraim

Ross’ unexpected production combined with another monster performance from Prince Adams, who contributed 10 points, 13 rebounds and a blocked shot (more on that later) that had to be seen to be believed.

Ephraim Chase added 8 points off the bench and that was more than enough offense against a Saint Viator team that scored only 3 baskets in the entire first half and shot 33% from the field for the game.

“Jon Scheyer? He’s the Duke coach, right?” asked Ross. “All I know is that one of our assistant coaches, Dantea Johnson, keeps telling me that confidence comes from within and that’s the biggest thing for me. My game is built around my shooting, and once I saw a couple of shots fall, I knew I was in a rhythm.

“Obviously I didn’t want the kind of start I had in the first three games [15 total points]. The one thing you can’t do is lose your confidence. You have to know that the shots will start falling eventually.”

Ross missed his first try from the beyond the arc and didn’t miss again. He nailed seven in a row from different spots on the floor, and his third quarter splurge prevented St. Viator – already trailing 30-15 at halftime – from any hope of a comeback.

‘The law of averages’

“I think it was the law of averages, because Jonah didn’t get off to a good start in the first couple of games,” pointed out ETHS head coach Mike Ellis.

“But he’s a good shooter and with his talent and ability to put the ball in the basket, he deserved a game like this. Coming off those first few games, I know he felt like he could have been more productive. But I have confidence in him and in all of our shooters. If it’s a good shot, you take it, no matter who you are.

“We won’t take the first uncontested three down the floor like some of the teams we’ve had in the past. But we can shoot it well as a team when we have good shot selection.”

Ross’ marksmanship helped Evanston connect on exactly 50% (25-of-50) field goal attempts. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter as the reserves took over and mustered just 8 points after the champs had blown the lead out to 55-30 at the start of the final period.

Adams was the MVP

While Ross enjoyed a career moment Saturday, teammate Adams was clearly the best player in the tournament and would have deserved Most Valuable Player honors if such an award was available at the event.

Wildkit fans in attendance Saturday saw him at his best with a blocked shot at the beginning of the third quarter. Even Ellis admitted he’d never seen a play quite like it.

Saint Viator guard Jack Glasstetter thought he was free for a fast-break layup – but Adams thought otherwise, blocked the shot and Ross scored a transition 3-pointer at the end to trigger a 17-6 run for the Wildkits.

“Most people have highlight dunk films, but Prince has highlight blocks and highlight dunks, too,” said Ellis. “He got that block with one hand and caught it with the other – BEFORE it hit the floor or went out of bounds. That was a 5-point play for us. That was better than the Libertyville game where he blocked the same guy twice with each hand and their coaches wanted a goaltending call.

“Prince is such a force out there. That was a phenomenal play and it shows just how talented he is. In the tournament I bet he’s taken away 12 points from ([opposing] 3-point shooters, blocking or changing their shots. He’s also erasing shots around the rim. And he didn’t just have a great four days here, either. He’s been our most productive player the entire month of November, starting with our tryouts.”

The veteran coach in the past has downplayed Evanston’s championship efforts in November, setting the team sights on conference championships and postseason success. But the four-game sweep this year might hold more significance for a new cast of players where Adams is the only returning starter from a year ago.

“When Evanston comes to this tournament, we expect nothing less than to win here,” said Ross. “This was definitely a good way to warm up for the rest of the season and get our chemistry going. Now, we can move on to bigger things.”

“To me, the goal for this week is to use these four games to settle in,” said Ellis. “We want to see what we do well, and play to those strengths, what we need to work on, and where we are as a team. It’s more about our performance than the results, but I think this speaks to their will to win as players.”  

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