Fast pace suits Wildkits in 69-52 regional romp

Try to run with Evanston’s basketball team and it’s like tugging on Superman’s cape.

You might get away with it for awhile --- but not for four quarters.

The Wildkits ran past Elk Grove Village for a 67-52 victory in the Class 4A Evanston regional tournament semifinals Tuesday at Beardsley Gymnasium, taking the first step on a potential repeat trip to the Final Four in Peoria. They’ll face either Notre Dame or Maine West in Friday’s regional championship game at 7 p.m.

Top-seeded Evanston (27-4) wore down the losers in the second half in a fast-paced contest that sent the Elk Grove home with a final record of 6-25. The Grenadiers played at a quicker tempo than they’re used to and the result was 25 turnovers.

The fast pace certainly suited Evanston senior Lance Jones, who led the Kits to their 9th straight victory by racking up 14 points, 9 assists and 7 steals in one of his best all-around performances of the season. Jaheim Holden added 13 points, a game-high 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Blake Peters netted 12 points.

Ryley Rathman paced the Grenadiers with 18 points, 13 coming in the first half. But the visitors only mustered 7 points as a team in the third quarter as ETHS pulled away to a 53-35 advantage.

“They outplayed us in the second quarter and I’m sure they were feeling pretty good in the lockerroom at halftime,” said Ellis, whose team led 38-28 at the halftime break. “But fatigue is more of an issue when you’re down by double digits, and we have 4 point guards to one for most of the teams we play against. We just wore them down.

“We try to push guys (opposing guards) to the brink and make them play at a pace they’re not comfortable with. We did that for stretches tonight, but Friday night we’ll have to do it for longer stretches.”

Evanston actually started to pull away late in the first half, after a 3-point basket by Elk Grove’s Brandon Burns pulled the visitors within 30-28. But Jones dashed down the middle for a lay-in, then fed Peters for back-to-back triples and a 10-point edge at halftime.

The Wildkits sank 27-of-61 field goal attempts, or 45 percent, including a 9-of-25 effort from 3-point range.  

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