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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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Rocca leads well-rounded offensive performance in Kits win over Maine South

Evanston shoots its way to its first conference win of season
Evanston+shot+over+50+percent+from+the+field+in+its+win+against+Maine+South+on+Dec.+15.
Isaiah Gaddy
Evanston shot over 50 percent from the field in its win against Maine South on Dec. 15.

On Tuesday night, boys basketball shot 31 percent from the field in a 42-39 upset loss to Carmel Catholic, who had lost six straight prior to their matchup in Beardsley Gym with the Kits. So when Evanston responded on Friday night by shooting over 50 percent as a team and knocking down ten threes against Maine South, head coach Mike Ellis was pleased with the team’s turnaround.

“We shot over 50 percent tonight. Against Carmel, we shot 32 percent. That’s your difference right there,” Ellis said. “We had a good shot selection, valued the basketball and were disciplined on the boards.”

Junior Theo Rocca chipped in 18 points—including four triples—to lead the Kits (8-3, 1-2 CSL) to a 59-48 win over the Hawks (5-4, 0-3 CSL). With the win, the Kits extended their recent record against Maine South to 15-1 in their last sixteen matchups.

Senior Brandon Watson set the tone early for the Kits against Carmel, drilling a three to open up the scoring for the night. The Maine South press started to cause a bit of disruption for Evanston, which initially rushed shots and turned the ball over. The Hawks finished the game with 10 steals to Evanston’s three. While the Kits stalled out for several minutes during the middle of the first quarter, senior Morgan Brown’s three gave the Kits an 8-7 lead. The Kits never trailed the rest of the night.

Evanston finished the quarter strong, playing their way into a 13-9 lead going into the second. Brown led the way for the Kits in the scoring column with seven points, controlling the paint on both sides of the ball.

“I thought we ran [the spread] offense as well tonight as we’ve run it all year. We did a good job of catching and looking to find the open man to create something,” Ellis said.

Brown kept his foot on the gas, opening the quarter with an inside bucket and leading the defense to keep the Hawks outside of the paint. Maine South’s tallest player that checked into the game stood at just 6-foot-3, which the Kit defense used to its advantage defensively.

After struggling from the field in his last couple of games, Rocca found his rhythm again. He opened his big night by draining a three, putting the Kits up eight in the second quarter. Just a few plays later, Rocca drove inside past his defender for the easy layup. The Kits took this momentum into the half, extending their lead to 24-17.

“We stayed with it [tonight]. We never let up defensively,” Rocca said. “We played much, much better on offense. We were much more fluid tonight.”

Maine South came out of the half running, playing aggressive press defense and knocking down a three to cut Evanston’s lead to just four. However, the Kits responded in a huge way. Brown made back-to-back shots in the paint and found Rocca two possessions later who knocked down the three. Maine South called a timeout in an effort to stop the bleeding.

Out of the timeout, freshman Vito Rocca knocked down a deep three. And just a few plays later, the older Rocca knocked down another three to put Evanston up 37-24, marking a 13-4 run for Ellis’s squad. The Kits led, 40-28, going into the final quarter of play. 

“[Theo] has struggled lately, but he’s put in extra time in the gym outside of practice. It’s good to see when you put in extra work and it pays off,” Ellis said.

However, Maine South’s sophomore standout Panayiotis Sotos wasted no time trying to tally more points on his big night. He fired a wing three, drilled it and got fouled. Sotos finished the game with 22 points off 9-for-13 (69 percent) shooting from the field.

Although the hosts had trouble stopping Soto in the quarter, their offense was enough to keep the lead in a comfortable spot. Late baskets by junior Ian Peters, senior Antoine Thomas, and Watson helped the Kits close out the game without sweating.

Evanston shot more effectively from beyond the arc than they did from the field as a whole, shooting a whopping 10-for-19 (53 percent) from downtown. The Kits also dominated the rebounding column, 26-13.

“A lot of [this win] is confidence,” Rocca stated. “[We] trusted each other, trusted the offense, and trusted our shots. It feels really good.” 

Evanston will head to Maine East on Monday, Dec. 18, before taking on New Trier in Beardsley on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Owen Chiss, Digital Sports Editor
Will Klearman, Opinion Columnist
Hey everyone! I’m Will Klearman (he/him) and this year I am an opinion columnist as well as a sports writer. I am a sophomore and this is my second year on staff. Being on The Evanstonian is great because it allows me to get an inside look on the sports at ETHS. I also love getting my opinion out there. Outside of The Evanstonian, I enjoy hanging out with friends, playing tennis and watching sports!
Isaiah Gaddy, Staff Writer
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