Evanston breaks loose for 95 points in tourney win
Even the players who opened the season as members of the starting lineup for the Evanston basketball team recognize the fact that they all still have a lot to prove this year.
So when the starters returned to the floor with a halftime lead of 50-18 Wednesday night in the second round of the Saint Viator Thanksgiving Classic tournament, the Wildkits didn’t ease off the throttle.
Instead, the unit of Prince Adams, Rashawn Bost, Jack Tully, Aidan Maher and David Gieser scored 26 unanswered points in the quarter --- forcing 10 turnovers and shooting 15-of-22 from the field in the process --- as the Wildkits destroyed an undermanned and overwhelmed Streamwood squad by a 95-41 margin.
How lopsided did things get against a Streamwood team that only dressed 7 players due to injuries? The Sabres’ head coach, Kent Payne, inquired at the scorer’s bench to suggest that maybe the slaughter rule (running clock except during timeouts) could be put into effect even though there were still 5 minutes left in the THIRD quarter.
The slaughter rule doesn’t take effect until the fourth quarter in games with at least a 30-point margin. Payne had to watch the deficit grow to greater than 50 points even though his counterpart, ETHS head coach Mike Ellis, used all 16 players on his bench in the first half and continued to substitute throughout the second half.
Evanston improved to 2-0 and there wasn’t much Ellis could do to stem the tide, especially in the second game of the season, when the Kits are still jockeying for playing time amongst themselves.
Adams led the winners with 16 points, matching his career high, even though he only played 15 minutes. Gieser (13), Yaris Irby (13) and Bost (12) also reached double figures as Evanston converted 56 percent (38-of-68) of their total field goal attempts, including 11-of-21 from 3-point range.
It’s the most points an Ellis-coached Evanston team has scored since the 94-82 rout of Rockford East in the state semifinals in 2019. The Wildkits also scored 95 points in a game earlier that season.
“We laid off as much as we could, but we’re still in an evaluation period for all 18 players in the program,” Ellis pointed out. “We still have no set rotation and we don’t know who will play well together, who has that chemistry. So it’s only fair to our kids that we continued to play the game.
“The 15th man on our roster does the same drills and works as hard as the starters do in practice, and for them to be on the floor and not give it their best effort is contradictory to what we believe. With all the hard work they’ve done, we have to make sure they all get opportunities.
“I thought our starters did a much better job tonight than last night (2-point win over Libertyville). They did a nice job focusing on the points of emphasis we talked about in the shootaround today, and that’s to play to the present, don’t play to the scoreboard. The message is always that you have to play a full game and you can’t get comfortable out there.”
Evanston was credited with 19 steals on the night, most of them coming during that third quarter blitz. The Wildkits led 84-25 after three quarters, and even though the clock didn’t stop, still managed to threaten the 100-point mark.
Evanston resumes tournament play on Friday at 5 p.m. versus Prospect, and concludes the round-robin event on Saturday against host St. Viator at 3 p.m.