For a basketball team that scored a season low number of points Tuesday night, Evanston checked a lot of boxes as far as head coach Mike Ellis was concerned.
The Wildkits did enough damage on offense to chalk up a 46-30 victory over La Lumiere School at Beardsley Gymnasium for their seventh straight win.
Evanston achieved the victory against the Lakers’ “Blue” team, not the squad that plays a national schedule against the top 20 high school programs in the country. But Ellis had no problem finding pluses for the undefeated Wildkits.
Jonah Ross led ETHS with 12 points while Prince Adams (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Josh Thomas (10 points, 9 rebounds) also reached double figures for the winners. None of the trio played in the 4th quarter with Evanston already leading 38-19.
“That’s a good team, an experienced team that has played in a lot of big venues before their national team plays,” pointed out Ellis. “But they were missing two of their best players tonight [with injuries]. And that was only their third loss [against five wins] of the season.
“It’s really all about how we play, not about the competition. You don’t change the way you want to play because of the competition. Playing a team like this is a good experience. Already this year we’ve seen a lot of different defenses. You want to play a variety of styles to be ready to handle any situation.”
Evanston solved the La Porte, Indiana, school’s 1-3-1 zone defense both outside (four 3-point baskets by Ross) and inside (the combination of Adams and Thomas) while mustering a season-low 46 points, matching their point output versus Antioch at the Saint Viator Thanksgiving tournament.
“We talked a lot about not settling for 3-point shots when the defense packed it in like they did against us tonight and in our last game [against Mundelein],” said Ellis. “We talked about having good balance, getting into the paint, getting to the free throw line, taking 3s, scoring on putbacks and scoring in transition, and we did all of that tonight. I thought our guys did a great job finding balance in the way we attacked them.
“Our turnovers [18 in a slow-paced contest] are still an issue, especially against a packed-in defense like that. We need better decision-making and we need to help each other out more. That’s not just on the guards, that’s everyone on the floor.”
Another box that needed to be checked was getting the 6-foot-6 Thomas, a transfer from Stevenson High School, more involved at both ends of the court. He’s started every single game but Tuesday’s numbers added up to season bests for both points and rebounds so far for the senior.
“Josh is such a great person, a great teammate, and we’re trying to bring him into a more aggressive mindset,” explained Ellis. “He thinks of others before he thinks of himself, and he has to recognize that he can be more aggressive on the court at times and put himself before the others.”
As a team, the Wildkits shot just 37% (16-of-43) but limited the visitors to only 13-of-40, or 32%. The Lakers went long stretches without any buckets and only Jackson Harper (8-of-16 for 19 points) and Nate Orr (3-of-12 for 7 points) seemed inclined to score when given the chance to shoot.
Evanston led 26-19 after a 3-point basket by Drew Hoyt midway through the third quarter. The hosts then closed out the quarter with a 12-0 run that included a pair of dunks by Thomas. Five different ETHS players scored during that spurt.
The Wildkits play Thursday at Glenbrook North and will take on Marian Catholic at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mount Carmel at the Team Rose Shootout.