Boys Basketball squares up tonight against Niles North

Billy Krupkin, Sports Editor

While boys basketball enters tonight’s contest against Niles North as the underdog, they aren’t expecting anything less than a battle to the finish.

    “Niles North has a very talented senior class, and Dravon Clayborn is a great leader,” senior guard Harry Porter said. “We can’t wait to compete against them.”

    Kits currently sit at 4-1. Their tough schedule to start the year is only a taste of what is to come based on the strength of their upcoming opponents, beginning with Niles North tonight, currently ranked eighth in the state by the Associated Press.

     “This December stretch is going to be a big test for us,” head coach Mike Ellis said. “We could easily become a .500 team, or we could make some big strides this season.”

    Vikings matchup similarly with Kits, and have a smaller team loaded with talented guards such as Clayborn.

   “Our goal is to completely commit to the defensive end,” Porter said. “If we lock up and get stops and steals, we know we can run the floor better than any team in the state.”

    The team currently averages a 59.7 percent defensive efficiency, meaning that they get defensive stops on over half of their opponents’ possessions. They have also limited their competition to an average of 6.2 second-chance points per game, and score an average of 23.2 points per game off turnovers.

    “With us being smaller, we are faster, and that’s how we get a lot of transition points,” junior guard Lance Jones said.

   The team’s plan this year revolves around speed and efficiency, with their guard-heavy lineup including Jones and fellow junior Jaheim Holden. Defensively, they want to limit opponents’ second-chance opportunities, and on the offensive side of the ball, running the floor and three-point shooting are two major points of emphasis.

     “Every game we’ve gone out, we’ve pretty much been the smaller team,” Ellis said. “We need to try and stretch the floor as much as possible both offensively and defensively, where we lengthen the court and just try to play out in space.”

    This year’s squad also features four freshmen, the most the team has had in recent years. Guards Isaiah “Itchy” Holden, Blake Peters, Jaylin Gibson and Elijah Bull all see significant playing time for the Kits.

   “Those four guys have been a very important reason to our success thus far,” senior guard Reggie Henley said.

    Kits are expecting a tough test in their first of two meetings with Niles North, and are prepared for a fast-paced showdown. They continue their action when they face St. Joseph’s tomorrow night on the road in Westchester.