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Henley leads Wildkits to hoops victory

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You never know where Evanston’s basketball team will turn to find some scoring punch, especially considering that eight different individuals have led the Wildkits in scoring on different nights already this season.

Friday night at Beardsley Gymnasium it was Dante Henley’s turn.

The senior guard stashed in a career-high 20 points, 16 of them coming in the second half, as the Kits turned back Glenbrook South 58-49 in a Central Suburban League South division contest.

With the win Evanston, now 16-5 overall, remained one game behind division leader Maine South in the standings. The two teams meet next Friday night in Park Ridge.

Henley’s second half explosion decided a defensive duel on a night where neither the hosts nor the Titans (9-10 overall, 2-5 CSL South) could find a flow on offense. The winners did connect on 49 percent (20-of-41) of their field goal attempts, but turned the ball over 14 times. GBS shot just 16-of-44 (36 percent) from the field, including a 3-of-16 showing from 3-point range.

Henley’s performance included 6-of-12 shooting from the floor, plus 3 steals and a 5-for-5 showing at the free throw line. Next best for Evanston were Will Jones and C.J. Singletary with 6 points apiece.

The hosts were nursing a 25-21 halftime lead when Henley got untracked, getting to the free throw line for four points and then adding a pair of 3-point baskets to stretch the advantage to 41-29 after three periods. Glenbrook South never got closer than seven points in the final period despite a late surge by guard Danny Nikitas, who notched 13 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.

Evanston coach Mike Ellis pointed out that Henley’s contributions usually go beyond the scoring column, as he’s averaging less than 6 points per contest.

“We always feel like anyone can get hot like that for us, and he was our most consistent guy tonight,” Ellis said. “The others did a good job of getting him the ball and recognizing that he was hot. They did a good job of getting him the basketball.

“That was one of the top three games he’s played for us all year. But with Dante, it all starts with his leadership for us. When he plays good defense and pressures the other team’s point guard at the point of attack, those are his most valuable qualities. We have a lot of other guys who can score.

“Everything he did tonight for us was solid. He didn’t force it, he let those 20 points come to him.”

With freshman Nojel Eastern still unavailable with a sore knee, Ellis broke his usual substitution pattern and went with a two-platoon system. Starters Henley, Nibra White, Jones, Jackson Mihevc and Elijah Henry shared minutes with reserves Singletary, Micquel Roseman, Xavier Hilliard, Nate Brieva and Marcus Johnson playing together as a unit.

“We don’t usually substitute with two platoons like that,” said the ETHS coach, “but those two teams had a pretty even battle at practice this week and they got used to playing together, so we thought we’d give it a try.”

Evanston will meet Benet Academy on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Loyola Academy as part of the “War On The Shore” tripleheader shootout. New Trier meets St. Patrick at 4:30 in the first game, followed by the ETHS-Benet contest and concluding with host Loyola against St. Viator.

Source: ETHS Sports Information

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