If the defense played by Evanston’s basketball team continues to get better at the current rate, head coach Mike Ellis won’t ask for anything else for Christmas.
The defense delivered in a big way again tonight at Beardsley Gym as the defending Central Suburban League South division champions stifled Niles West 61-26 to run their league record to 2-0.
The Wildkits surrendered a total of 7 field goals in the contest while improving to 6-1 overall. Guard Chris Hamil outscored the entire Niles West squad 12-10 in the first half and Dylan Mulvihill added 12 points and 9 rebounds for the winners, backed up by Nojel Eastern and Malik Jenkins with 8 points apiece.
Evanston put on a defensive clinic in a rare homecourt appearance, harassing the visitors by forcing 18 turnovers and limiting the Wolves to 7-of-41 shooting from the floor — that’s 17 percent . West was a woeful 0-for-16 from 3-point range, and that’s what happens when you don’t get any open looks.
“I thought we played a little more consistently than we have been at both ends of the court tonight,” Ellis said. “Our focus was on the defensive end tonight, the way it should be, and we did a nice job of executing. I liked the way they helped each other out and it was good to see them do a solid job of defending our basket.
“The AAU season and the summer are all about offense, about working on your offensive skills, so sometimes it takes awhile for the focus to be on defense. The bottom line is that championship teams guard you, and I think they’ve done a good job of investing on the defensive end. I like the way they’re shaping up as a team. They care about the right things, playing the right way, and they care about one another. That’s the aspect that will help accelerate our growth as a team.”
After slow starts in their last two outings versus Waukegan and Morgan Park, the Kits broke out to a 21-5 lead at the first quarter stop and stretched the lead to 36-10 at halftime. Hamil hit back-to-back 3-point shots to close out the first period, and opened the second quarter with six straight points in transition and connected on 5-of-9 field goal attempts before sitting out most of the second half.
The Wildkits will host New Trier next Wednesday before leaving to participate in the King of the Bluegrass Christmas tournament in Fairdale, Kentucky.
It’s the first time ETHS will play in that 16-team tourney and the Wildkits are one of four non-Kentucky schools who will participate. Evanston opens against Miami Central of Florida on Dec. 19 at 9 p.m., and would play either Gainesville (Ga.) or Brentwood (Tenn.) in the second round.
Source: ETHS Sports Information