A strong start — and an even better finish — powered Evanston’s basketball team to a season-opening 67-40 romp over Chicago Westinghouse Monday in the first round of the Battle of the Bridge Thanksgiving Tournament at DePaul Prep.
The Wildkits will face host DePaul at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the second round.
Evanston broke out to an 18-4 first quarter advantage, then put the Warriors away in the final period by outscoring them 22-6.
In between those two periods, however, the best way to describe the Wildkit performance was ragged.
“`That’s a sign of our youth, because the start of the game and the finish are the two easiest things to get excited about,” said Evanston coach Mike Ellis. “We have to learn to play the middle part of the game possession by possession. We really need to improve on taking care of the basketball. You can’t just take plays for granted.
“We did see some good signs from a lot of players tonight. We’ve got confidence in any of the 17 guys we can put on the floor, that we’ll get results from them.”
Strong play underneath by senior center Elijah Henry denied Westinghouse any comeback hopes after the Warriors had cut into that early deficit and only trailed 24-19 at halftime.
Henry exploded for 10 points and 5 rebounds in the period, including a baseline drive for a dunk with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left that boosted the ETHS advantage back to double digits at 36-25. Henry finished with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
“Elijah really hurt them inside,” Ellis noted. “He always plays with such energy and such passion. He does a lot of things for us with his hustle. Had we not turned the ball over so much (15 overall), I feel he would have done that in the first half.”
Leading 49-36 early in the fourth quarter, the Wildkits reeled off a 14-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Nine other players also scored for the winners, including Nojel Eastern (12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 blocked shot), Elijah Williams (8 points, 4 rebounds) and Dylan Mulvihill (7 points, 5 rebounds).
Source: ETHS Sports Information