Onto the Final Four!

Wildkits pummel Lake Zurich for a trip to Peoria


Brian O'Mahoney

Junior players Lance Jones and Rasheed Bakare celebrate the victory on Tuesday night.

Charlie Gruner, Sports Editor

For the first time since 2008, the boys basketball team is headed to Peoria for a chance to be crowned as a state champion after last night’s three point shooting tour de force and a 78-51 super sectional championship victory.

“This victory means so much knowing how much work we have put in on and off the court to get to this point,” last night’s leading scorer junior guard Jaheim Holden said. “We’ve had so many people doubt us after losing our guys from last year, so that fact that we have accomplished this much makes it that much more satisfying.”

Lead by the “Triple Threat” of juniors Lance Jones, Ryan Bost and Holden, the Kits managed to catch fire from beyond the arc, shooting 11-21 from three and 28-52 overall from the field.

After a flat start early on, Holden put the team on his back and cashed in on 14 of his 23 points in the first half, pushing the Kits to a comfortable 12 point halftime lead.

Along with Holden, freshman Blake Peters dropped in 10 points of his own, including two momentum-gaining threes in the second quarter that helped Evanston create that double-digit lead.

In the second half, stifling defense at the point of attack and active hands around the basket from senior Matt Hall and freshman Jaylin Gibson (8 points) made sure to bottle up any chance of a Lake Zurich comeback.

The Bears only connected on 5-14 from three point range throughout the game which simply wasn’t enough to keep up with Evanston’s sharpshooting from all angles.

The supersectional title means that the Kits will travel to Carver Arena in Peoria to face a familiar foe, the Whitney Young Dolphins. The Dolphins are the defending 2017 4A state champions, and the squad that ended the Wildkits’ season last year in the super sectional at Chicago State.

“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for an entire year now,” Holden said. “That night at Chicago State hurt us all down to the core, because we felt like they took it away from us. Now we have an opportunity to get our revenge.”

“I’ve been to the state finals twice as an assistant coach and twice as a head coach, and I honestly feel better for the kids than I do for myself. It means a lot to get a chance to be able to share that experience with this group of young men,” coach Mike Ellis said to Dennis Mahoney from Evanston Now. “It’s been 10 years since we got down, and 50 years since we won the state championship, and that’s a lot of history all rolled into one scenario this year.”

Revenge in the upcoming IHSA 4A state semifinal will undoubtedly be a tall order, as Whitney Young is fresh off a monumental upset in their supersectional, where they took down Illinois’ number one overall team and nationally ranked Simeon Wolverines in an OT thriller on Tuesday. However, the Kits are just as hot and hungrier than ever to prove that they belong at the top of the Illinois basketball throne.