Evanston’s share-the-ball philosophy resulted in six different players scoring in double figures on the basketball squad’s weekend trip to the 3rd annual LeBron James Classic shootout event in Akron, Ohio.
It also produced two victories for the streaking Wildkits, now 10-1 overall on the season.
Coach Mike Ellis’ squad topped the No. 20 ranked team in Ohio — Pickerington North — by a 57-50 margin Sunday with another balanced team effort led by Malcolm Townsel (15 points, 8 rebounds), Chris Hamil (14 points) and Jaheim Holden (10 points).
And the Wildkits didn’t even require the services of their most unselfish player, Purdue University recruit Nojel Eastern, to get the job done. Eastern missed Sunday’s contest due to a sprained ankle after playing less than half of the game Saturday in a win over St. Vincent St. Mary’s. He suffered the injury in a practice session last Thursday at ETHS.
Townsel and Hamil combined to lead a second half surge and it was Hamil who earned game MVP honors awarded by tournament officials. But the Kits showed they don’t mind sharing the ball with Townsel, a 6-foot-4 senior transfer from Whitney Young who is the new guy on the squad. Sunday’s effort marked his second straight double figure performance.
“We know we have a situation where we can’t just rely on one guy like Nojel,” Ellis said. “It will take a combined effort by all of us, game in and game out. This weekend whenever a guy had it going, whenever he was in rhythm, we found a way to get him the ball.
“For the second game in a row we were able to get some separation in the second half. Malcolm played a strong second half, and Chris hit some big 3-pointers for us. He was really the guy who created that separation with those 3s.
“Malcom was really strong for us this weekend. It’s good to see him starting to get into a groove. He’s an unselfish player who doesn’t want to let any of his teammates down, and he’s becoming more and more comfortable every day playing in our system. I think his confidence is growing because he knows he’s doing the right things.”
ETHS survived 18 turnovers and held on down the stretch after Pickerington had cut the deficit to 4 points with three and one-half minutes remaining in the contest that started at noon Sunday.
“I thought this trip was a great experience for our guys,” Ellis added. “It was great for them to see the legacy that LeBron left behind him and we’ll take these two wins and try to build on them.”
Evanston is idle until the Beach Ball Classic tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which opens on Dec. 27.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.