Shootout events were created years ago to help showcase the talents of individual high school basketball players, with the hope that a college coach or two might take notice.
The Team Rose Shootout held Sunday, Dec. 11, at Mount Carmel High School certainly served that purpose for Evanston Township High School senior Prince Adams.
But if Adams doesn’t get some help sooner rather than later, the Wildkits will struggle to string wins together.
Adams delivered another star-studded performance – 24 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocked shots – but couldn’t prevent Evanston’s second straight loss. Marian Catholic sank 27 of 32 free-throw attempts in a game that featured almost no offensive flow and scored a 57-45 nonconference victory.
Evanston, now 7-2 overall, shot an abysmal 1 of 13 from three-point range on its way to an overall field goal percentage of 26% (12 of 46). Besides Adams – who sank just 5 of 19 attempts of his own – the next highest scorer for the losers was Hunter Duncan with nine points.
The Wildkits’ negative trend on offense has seen games where two or three players in the starting lineup go scoreless, even during that seven-game winning streak to start the season. Head coach Mike Ellis knows that’s not a path to future success.
“Other than Prince, we just didn’t get into any flow or rhythm on offense,” Ellis said. “He tried to put us on his back and carry us, but it wasn’t enough. We have to have more balance. We couldn’t make any shots.
“I’m proud of the way Prince has started out his senior season. He’s elevated his game and he’s been a steadying force on our team. Now we have to get others to step up and help him out.”
Evanston mustered only two field goals in the first quarter and just two field goals as a team again in the third quarter en route to the defeat. And Marian Catholic wasn’t much better, except at the free-throw line, where the Spartans couldn’t miss. Marian sank 12 of 16 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, most of those tries coming after the Kits had cut a double digit deficit to 40-35 on a pair of Adams free throws with 4 minutes, 58 seconds left in the contest.
Marian (6-2 overall) was paced by Quentin Jones with 19 points and Donovan Juzang with 16. The start-and-stop tempo of the game was reflected in the fact that the two teams combined for 40 personal fouls and 61 free-throw attempts.
The Spartans led 13-6, 24-18 and 37-26 at the quarter breaks and were never seriously threatened due to their dead-eye marksmanship at the free-throw line.
“They did a good job of keeping us in a half-court game. We really didn’t get anything in
transition,” Ellis noted. “And their starters all produced for them. We need to spread the [offensive] production among 6 or 7 guys and not count so much on Prince. Our guys aren’t selfish and they did a good job of getting the ball inside, recognizing that he had the hot hand.
“We were more aggressive today than we were against Glenbrook North [last Thursday]. But we still need to find more discipline and more trust in each other. That’s what we’ve been lacking lately. Nothing against Marian, but this loss is on us on offense. We need to be more crisp and, to me, it’s a matter of timing and execution.”