Running a zone offense hasn’t had much of a priority so far this season at Evanston’s basketball practices.

Head coach Mike Ellis’ focus on teaching defense and a man-to-man offense — among other things — to a young squad that includes 5 sophomores and 2 freshmen has placed the zone offense on the back burner, and that was evident over the first two weeks of the season.

But the Wildkits managed to poke enough holes in Maine East’s 2-3 zone defense in the third quarter tonight to halt a two-game losing streak with a workmanlike 47-39 triumph over the Demons in a Central Suburban League crossover game.

Evanston (4-2) trailed 28-25 midway through the third period, then strung together eight straight points to get back on the winning track. Sophomore Nojel Eastern sparked that surge with three field goals and a steal in a 70-second span and finished with a total of 8 points.

Elijah Henry led the winners with 11 points and 3 rebounds, backed up by Eastern and Jerome Bynum (9 points).

“We need to build a solid foundation as a team, and we’re trying to put in a lot of things at this point,” said Ellis. “We’re not going to sacrifice practice time for other things until we make sure we have a solid foundation.

“That zone offense will come, but I’d like for it to be better even for this time of year. In that third quarter we had a little more in and out movement instead of side to side, and that helped. And Nojel made some plays for us. He has to be the guy to make plays, because he’s our anchor.”

Eastern scored underneath with 4 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the third period to draw the Kits within 27-26. He scored on a short jumper in the lane on Evanston’s next possession, then went the length of the court with a rebound for his third straight bucket following a scoreless first half.

Jerome Bynum’s steal and subsequent dunk put an exclamation point on that 8-0 run and lifted ETHS to a 38-31 advantage after three quarters.

Evanston’s second unit played almost the entire fourth quarter but didn’t allow the hosts to get closer than six points.

Ezeka Omeke led Maine East (1-4) with 17 points.

Source: ETHS Sports Information

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