Kits defeat Sussex-Hamilton 70-68 in 3OT

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Kits defeat Sussex-Hamilton 70-68 in 3OT

Elijah Bull dribbles the ball up the court

Elijah Bull dribbles the ball up the court

Hailey Fine

Elijah Bull dribbles the ball up the court

Hailey Fine

Hailey Fine

Elijah Bull dribbles the ball up the court

Eli Cohen, Sports Editor

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Four quarters weren’t nearly enough to decide a winner between Evanston and Sussex-Hamilton, as Evanston battled against Hamilton for three additional overtime periods, eventually ending in a 70-68 overtime win over the Chargers, led by the 6’9” five-star recruit and Haven alum Patrick Baldwin.

Whenever the Chargers called, the Kits answered. In the first overtime, ETHS was down by three with 45 seconds left before junior guard Blake Peters hit a deep contested triple to tie the game. Fast forward seven minutes later, ETHS found themselves down four with a minute and a half left on the clock in 3OT. A free throw from Peters, followed by a steal and 3-pointer from Isaiah “Itchy” Holden helped the Kits tie the game. 

Surely enough, Hamilton responded with a bucket of their own, but the favor was returned with a coast-to-coast layup by Jaylin Gibson with just over a minute left, tying the game at 68 apiece. The Chargers held the ball for most of the remaining time, before junior Daeshawn Hemphill rebounded an errant shot, and was fouled. 

The 6’1” guard only had two points prior to heading to the line, but doubled that, with the game sealing makes.

“I’ve got to give [Hemphill] credit, he came in, he’s stayed late after practice, he’s coming early to practice, he’s kind of become a vocal leader,” coach Mike Ellis said. “I’m glad to see him turn a corner from that rout he was in. He deserved to make those free throws.”

Hemphill was the only Evanston starter who finished with a single figure point total, but when it mattered most, he delivered.

“It was somebody, it was always somebody, it wasn’t just one guy, it was all five guys. Everybody that played tonight made a contribution in that victory,” Ellis said.

Amongst those who stepped up, Elijah Bull is certainly at the top of the list. Bull tallied 19 points, making six of his seven shots from the field, draining all three of his three-point attempts. 

“We don’t win the game without the way Elijah played,” Ellis explained of Bull.

Bull received player of the game honors, which is very telling considering how well many of his teammates played.

In addition to Bull, Jaylin Gibson’s 15 points, five assists and five rebounds were pivotal for ETHS. Even more important than his offense though, was the defense he played on Patrick Baldwin, the third ranked junior in the nation according to ESPN’s top 60 recruits.

Baldwin scored the game high 25 points, while snagging a staggering 17 rebounds for Sussex-Hamilton, but did so while shooting less than 50% from the field. While 25 is a large total, he has averaged roughly 25 points per game this season, and put up that amount last night despite having twelve extra minutes to play due to the three overtime periods.

Gibson, who was the primary defender on Baldwin, attributes much of Evanston’s defensive success to their communication.

“What went well was that we were all talking on the defensive end, we were aware of what was going on, and what Patrick was doing,” Gibson said.

It wasn’t Baldwin’s best game, but he still showed why he is regarded as a future first round NBA draft pick.

While the result wasn’t what Baldwin was hoping for, this game was about more than just a win or loss for the five-star recruit.

“Just talking to the guys in the locker room, as far is win lose or draw, this game really means nothing to us in terms of seeding in Wisconsin,” Baldwin said.  “But I mean just overall the emotional effect it had was borderline everything to me. I don’t really care that we lost because at the end of the day I know that our guys competed their hearts out, and I just want to thank them.”

Returning to Evanston alone makes it a special game for Baldwin; he grew up in Welsh-Ryan Arena where last night’s game was played. Baldwin’s father, Patrick Baldwin Sr., was an assistant coach for Northwestern’s men’s basketball team from 2013-17 before being hired as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s head coach following the 2017 season, the reason for the family’s relocation.

Despite having moved three years ago, Baldwin was greeted in Welsh-Ryan Arena with a roar of cheers, as Evanston will continue to claim him as their own as he keeps progressing into a basketball star.

Based on last night’s game, it seems like Evanston has rebounded from their rough patch, where they lost three times within nine days to end the month of January. 

The win improved ETHS to 23-3, giving Evanston the needed momentum to finish off the regular season. The Kits only have four games remaining before the road to Peoria begins.