One man down — next man up. Evanston’s basketball team didn’t skip a beat at Beardsley Gym tonight, even though the Wildkits had to play Highland Park in a Central Suburban League crossover game without leading rebounder Elyjah Williams.
The 6-foot-6 junior suffered a broken toe during a pickup game over the Christmas break and could miss as many as four weeks. But the Wildkits didn’t need his help inside Tuesday, outrebounding the smaller Giants by a 31-15 margin on their way to an easy 53-20 victory.
Coach Mike Ellis’ team, however, faces bigger challenges in the next two conference games against 6-7 Jimmy Martinelli of Glenbrook South and 6-11 Brad Perry of Maine South. Both post players are the leading scorers for their respective teams so far this season.
Ellis, however, didn’t express any concern in the aftermath of a game in which Evanston’s defense limited the losers to 25 percent (9-of-36) shooting from the floor while improving to 11-2 overall this season.
“I’m not concerned. It’s a situation where it will be the next man up for us,” said the ETHS coach. “Elyjah is our leading rebounder, that’s true, but he’s not averaging 15 rebounds a game — he’s averaging a little over 6. So if we get six guys to give us one more rebound, that will make up for that.
“Elyjah does give us versatility at the defensive end, but so do some of the others like Nojel Eastern and Chris Hamil and Charlie Maxwell. We’ll still play to our strengths. We won’t change what we do without Elyjah. Nojel could move into the frontcourt and Charlie gives us intelligence and effort out there. And any time you have to guard a player with size, for us it’s a team effort anyway. We never leave anyone isolated like that. We rely on ball pressure and weakside help, because we don’t have a 7-footer we can stick down there and say protect the rim.”
Against Highland Park, ETHS 6-5 senior Dylan Mulvihill equaled his season averages in the first half against a Giants’ team with no starter taller than 6-2. Mulvihill finished with a team-high 10 points, 7 rebounds and a blocked shot as Evanston blanked the Giants in the first quarter, scored the first 16 points of the game and built the lead to 28-10 by halftime.
Malik Jenkins scored 9 points and Eastern added 8 for the hosts, who shot 54 percent (21-of-39) from the floor and only permitted one free throw attempt on defense. Highland Park missed that chance.
“I thought we played a solid four quarters of basketball tonight,” Ellis said. “We did a nice job of sharing the basketball. We’ve had a lot of people play zone defenses against us lately, and our guys are getting more and more comfortable against them.”
Source: ETHS Sports Information