Evanston’s basketball team shot only 34 percent from the field Saturday and was out-rebounded almost 2 to 1. So much for the Wildkits’ 5-game winning string.
DePaul Prep, ranked No. 6 in the latest Associated Press Class 3A state poll, handed the Wildkits a 59-52 defeat Saturday at the When Sides Collide shootout event at Glenbard East High School.
In the same gym where ETHS reached a low point as a team last year, blowing a double digit lead in an overtime loss to Naperville North, the Wildkits suffered one of their worst shooting performances of the current season and slipped to 14-4 overall.
Evanston needed a late rally to reach 34 percent shooting (20 of 59), and the fact that the losers outscored the Rams 22-15 in the fourth quarter wasn’t much consolation for ETHS head coach Mike Ellis.
“We made things harder than they needed to be, especially on offense,” Ellis pointed out. “Just because you beat your man off the dribble doesn’t give you the right to take a bad shot. It’s all about playing smart. We have to make better choices. We also lost the rebounding (45-26). Rebounding is about toughness, and we got out-toughed today. Their point guard (Raheem Anthony) had 13 rebounds and their other 5-foot-8 guard (Spencer Cody) had 8 rebounds.
“We didn’t finish the second quarter strong enough (DePaul scored the last 5 points for a 28-23 advantage) and that bled over into the third quarter, when we didn’t come out of the lockerroom with a sense of urgency. Obviously, we have to play smarter and do the little things. We’re trying to do big things — and it’s the little things that win games.”
Junior guard Lance Jones led Evanston’s fourth quarter comeback and finished with 24 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the floor. Blake Peters added 12 points for the losers.
DePaul Prep’s smooth junior, Perry Cowan, won the individual battle against Jones by netting a game-high 27 points and adding 8 rebounds. Anthony backed him up with 12 points, including an 8-of-12 showing at the free throw line.
The winners missed 5 free throws in the final period to help Evanston close the gap and keep the outcome in doubt until the final minute. Evanston trailed 44-30 after three quarters, before Jones and freshman Jaylin Gibson (6 points, all in the final period) pulled the Kits to within 49-43 with 1 minute, 28 seconds remaining.
The Rams made sure it got no closer by converting 6-of-10 at the charity stripe from that point.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.