To get his basketball team back on track on offense, Evanston head coach Mike Ellis limited the number of basketballs available during practice drills this week.
It was a reminder to all of the Wildkits that they needed to focus on more movement off the ball, not to mention sharing the ball.
So far, so good. Evanston piled up 16 assists on 23 field goals --- most of them 3-point baskets ---and remained one game off the pace in the Central Suburban League South division race by drilling Maine South 64-42 Friday night at Beardsley Gymnasium.
Crisper execution on offense allowed the Kits to convert 13-of-24 3-point field goal attempts, as 7 different players connected from beyond the arc led by Elijah Bull (20 points). For the game, Evanston shot 60 percent overall and actually scored more treys than 2-pointers.
Evanston improved to 22-3 on the season and 7-1 in CSL South action, one game behind Glenbrook South. GBS defeated GBN 57-34 Friday.
“I just felt like we got into some lazy habits that we had to iron out, and to the kids’ credit, they embraced it. It was a good week of practice,” Ellis said.
“There had to be more focus on putting yourself and your teammates in better position (to shoot and score). The last couple of weeks, we haven’t played our best off the ball, so we didn’t do any shooting drills in practice. There was just 1 basketball for 17 guys to share for most of the drills.
“I was a little concerned with our ratio of 3s to 2s tonight. I don’t like them to just chuck up 3s, but 3-point shooting is our strength and they shared the ball a lot better than they have been.”
Bull’s hot hand in the second quarter produced a career high 5 buckets (in 6 tries) from 3-point range for the junior guard, who entered the contest averaging just 6 points per game. Jaylin Gibson and Isaiah Holden combined for 16 points and 9 assists for the winners, who shot out to a 34-27 halftime lead and then limited South (14-12 overall, 3-5 league) to just 4 total field goals in the second half.
Marko Anderson’s 10 points couldn’t prevent a series sweep by Evanston in the two league matchups.
“Everyone on this team is capable of shooting 3 pointers,” Ellis added. “I thought we did a good job of finding the hot hand within the flow of our offense. That speaks to our unselfish play, and we weren’t over-dribbling or turning the ball over like we have been the last couple of weeks.”
Evanston will play Sussex Hamilton of Wisconsin on Saturday at the E-Town Shootout at Northwestern University. Game time is approximately 6:30 p.m, with Stevenson taking on Loyola Academy at 5 p.m.
Evanston’s girls will play No. 1 ranked Benet Academy in the final game of the tripleheader event.