Kits win third straight Majkowski Classic at St. Viator

Chris Werner, Sports Editor

At the start of the 2016-17 season, Evanston switched Thanksgiving  tournaments from the Battle of the Bridge tournament at Lane Tech and Depaul Prep to the Majkowski Classic at St. Viator. The move has proved to be a good one for the Kits. ETHS has won the tournament every year they have competed and they have played some of the state’s elite competition. This year was no different.

Game 1: Evanston 77 Conant 45

Game 2: Evanston 85 Libertyville 51

Evanston collected its second victory of the year as Louis Lesmond, the sophomore transfer from France, found his stride, tallying 16 points in the contest after only scoring four points in the first game of the year.

“It was good to see [Louis] bounce back,” coach Mike Ellis said. “I know he was disappointed in the way he played last night. That just shows you what type of competitor Louis is.”

Evanston had balanced scoring as senior guards Ryan Bost and Lance Jones scored in double figures as well with 19 and 15 points, respectively.

“I think [our players] recognize that everybody on our team has the potential to have a breakout game or a big performance,” Ellis said. “We’re hard to guard when it’s balanced like that I like to look up and see two or three guys near 20 points.”

On defense, Evanston racked up a whopping 17 steals.

Game 3: Evanston 65 Prospect 37

The Prospect Knights came out ready to play and matched Evanston in the first quarter, playing to an 11-11 tie after one period. But then it was all Wildkits.

ETHS ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, a theme of the young season thus far, and went into halftime with a 32-17 lead. Up 59-29 after three quarters, the mercy rule, back this year in IHSA basketball, came into effect only stopping the clock in the final quarter for timeouts and injuries.

Offensive balance was the story again for the Kits as no player scored more than 13 points. But Evanston had three players in double figures for the second straight game. Jones led ETHS with 13 points, sophomore Jaylin Gibson added 11 and fellow senior guard Jaheim Holden scored 11.

Evanston applied pressure to Prospect’s ball handlers all game and came up with a total of 21 turnovers.

Game 4: Evanston 72 Saint Viator 63

In the most anticipated game of the tournament, between the No. 2 ranked Wildkits and the No. 9 ranked Lions, according to Michael O’Brien’s Super 25 ,the teams did not disappoint.

St. Viator’s two division 1 bound guards, Jeremiah Hernandez (Kent State) and Treyvon Calvin (Wright State) both lived up to the hype each scoring 22 points. But five Evanston players scoring in double figures proved too much for the host Lions to handle.

Gibson led the Kits with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Jones scored 15, and Bost, Holden and sophomore Blake Peters all tallied 12 points.

“Last year there might have been  moments in games where Jaylin would catch himself trying to think where he belonged, now he’s getting more comfortable and he can just react and play,” Ellis said. “He’s a playmaker, he’s athletic, he can do multiple things on the floor. The fact that he’s not out there thinking the game, just playing, really strengthens what he can do.”

After trailing by four after the first quarter, Evanston rallied to take a 33-31 lead into halftime and led 54-46 after the third quarter.

In the final period, St. Viator cut the Kits’ lead to six points, but Evanston closed it out, coming away with a 72-63 victory.

ETHS will go on the road to play GBS this Thursday at 7 pm, then will face No. 11 Uplift at the Chicago Elite Classic at Wintrust Arena on Saturday at 1:30 pm.