Evanston’s basketball team got back on track and moved another step closer to the Central Suburban League South division championship Friday night at Beardsley Gym.
The Wildkits’ reliance on team basketball — spell that with a capital T — produced 20 assists on 29 baskets and 63 percent shooting from the field in a 74-43 romp over Niles West as they bounced back from last week’s loss to Naperville North.
Coach Mike Ellis’ team improved to 17-3 on the season and 7-0 in league play.
On a night where the Kits again embraced that share-the-ball philosophy, there were also plenty of moments worthy of the 2016-17 season individual highlight film, if you stop to consider (in no particular order):
- An acrobatic, one-handed dunk by Elyjah Williams on a short lob pass from Lance Jones in the first quarter.
- Five steals by sophomore Ryan Bost, who ripped the ball away from Niles West’s players again and again with a relentless defensive effort.
- A 4-point play by senior Chris Hamil in the first quarter, as he canned a 3-point shot from the corner and made the subsequent free throw after being knocked out of bounds on the play.
- A sweet coast-to-coast lay-in by Lance Jones, who switched to his left hand at the last moment to complete the play in the third quarter.
- A fourth quarter blocked shot by seldom-used senior Joe Jones.
- And last but not least, the long-range shooting of crowd favorite Harry Porter. He connected on 3-of-4 shots from 3-point range for a career-high 9 points, all of them coming in the fourth quarter.
Williams led all scorers with 13 points in 13 minutes of action and was the only Wildkit to reach double figures. But Jaheim Holden and Porter each contributed 9 points off the bench and overall 12 players scored for the winners.
Niles West, still winless in the CSL South, was led by Mirsad Mackic’s 12 points.
Evanston connected on 29-of-46 field goal attempts and both Lance Jones and Nojel Eastern were credited with 5 assists.
“It was good to see things spread around like that tonight,” Ellis said. “We haven’t been able to get extensive minutes like this for the whole team in too many games this year, and they all deserve to play because of how hard they work in practice.
“Our last time out (against Naperville North) I wasn’t impressed with our ball movement, and tonight we wanted to share the basketball against Niles West’s pressure. We looked for Ely (Williams) early and it was good to get him back into the flow. We pointed out to the kids that he only got 2 shots last game and they all felt bad about that. They didn’t really need me to mention it because they respect him so much. It didn’t take much convincing on my part to get the ball inside.”
Williams stashed in 8 points in the first quarter, boosting the home team to a 20-7 advantage. ETHS stretched the lead to 36-21 by halftime, then outscored the Wolves 19-5 in the third stanza, including a run of 11-0 midway through the period.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.