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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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Boys basketball looking to ride momentum into playoffs

Evanston, winners of five out of its last six, plays its first postseason matchup on Wednesday night.
When+Evanston+last+took+on+Maine+South+on+Jan.+26%2C+the+Kits+won%2C+58-45.
Isaiah Gaddy
When Evanston last took on Maine South on Jan. 26, the Kits won, 58-45.

Boys basketball will enter into the Class 4A IHSA postseason on Wednesday against not only a familiar face but a face that the Kits have had their way with recently.

For the third time this season, Evanston will take on Maine South, whom the Kits defeated twice during the regular season. But this time, the stakes are higher. The two teams will battle in the regional semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Glenbrook South.

“We’re going to be playing a game coming up where our opponent is very familiar with us and we’re very familiar with them,” head coach Mike Ellis stated. “We’ve settled into a good rotation with guys that are playing well right now and we need to do what we do best and lock in.”

Evanston is riding a strong streak into the postseason. The Kits finished the season with an overall record of 20-10 (5-5 CSL) but surged into the No. 6 spot in the GBS sectional after winning five out of their final six games. After Loyola beat the Kits in the final seconds of a game on January 23rd, Evanston completely turned their season around.

The stretch started shortly after in Park Ridge against Maine South, who was then winless in the conference and stood at just 9-12. The Kits pulled away in the fourth quarter, defeating the Redhawks, 58-45, for what would be the first game of the winning streak. Just a day later, ETHS faced off against a tough St. Patrick’s team in a neutral site game at New Trier. A Theo Rocca steal in the final seconds sealed a massive 49-45 win over a talented Shamrock team.

But the Kits weren’t done just yet.

Two days later, Evanston was faced with another tremendous challenge on senior night against Richard Lindsey and De La Salle’s crew. After senior Morgan Brown’s three to force overtime, Evanston controlled overtime from the first possession and held on for an impressive 65-62 win.

But perhaps the Kits’ biggest win of the season came on Feb. 2 against New Trier in Winnetka. After being routed by the Trevians in Beardsley earlier in the year, the Kits found vengeance against the Trevians in a low-scoring affair after junior Ian Peters’ two free throws with 16 seconds left sealed the 37-35 win.

The Kits lost a week later to Glenbrook South in the Titan Dome, but easily beat Maine West, 54-32, to close out the regular season. Ellis believes the Kits can ride their momentum into the playoffs.

“I think we’ve been at our best when we simplify things,” Ellis stated. “When you get into the postseason, you want to play to your strengths. If there’s a common theme year in and year out, it’s to play to your strengths.”

The Path

Evanston will have to go through the No. 10 Redhawks in the first round, who closed out the regular season at an overall record of 12-17 (1-9 CSL). The first time the two teams met this season was on Dec. 15 in Beardsley Gym, where the Kits pulled away late to win by eleven off of Theo Rocca’s 18-point performance. In that contest, Evanston shot 50% from behind the arc. The lone bright spot for the Redhawks was sophomore Panayiotis Sotos’ 22-point game. But when the teams faced off for a second conference game in Park Ridge, the Kits shut down Sotos, who scored just nine points while turning the ball over four times.

“Both those games [against Maine South] were really close games until late. We need to come into Wednesday knowing that Maine South is our sole focus,” Ellis emphasized. “We want to make sure we still have a chance to go to practice on Thursday.”

If the Kits do bring home a win on Wednesday night, that practice on Thursday could be crucial.

The winner of the Evanston/Maine South game will take on the winner of No. 3 Glenbrook South and No. 14 Highland Park in the regional finals at Glenbrook South. The Titans beat the Kits in both matchups this season and could present a tough task in what would be a home game for GBS if the hosts can beat Highland Park in the first round.

“We have to understand that each possession is as big as any other possession. We have to take it one possession at a time. Play for scores and play for stops,” Ellis said.

Tickets are available for Wednesday’s regional semifinal on GoFan.

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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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