ETHS opens season with 77-45 win at St. Viator tournament

Chris Werner and Eli Cohen

The Kits came out of the gate slowly against Conant on Tuesday night, taking a prolonged five and a half minutes to score their first basket, but bounced back from their struggles to show why they’re one of the elite teams in the Chicagoland area.

“We started a lineup to reward the guys who put in the most overall minutes during practice,” coach Mike Ellis said. “You can see the impact that Ryan [Bost] and Lance [Jones] had when they came in the game, they totally changed the game.”

After scoring only seven points in the first quarter, Evanston found the hounding defense that was such a big part of last year’s state run. Numerous steals led to fast break baskets and the Kits only allowed two points in quarter number two as ETHS took a 36-14 lead into halftime.

Seniors Bost and Jones had tremendous games, scoring 13 points apiece, but the stat sheet doesn’t show their full impact.

“Their on-ball pressure tonight was definitely a factor in the second quarter,” Ellis said.

In the last few years, the Kits have thrived creating offense from defense and that was evident Tuesday night as Jones and Bost spear-headed the defensive effort.

“Our defense pretty much kept the ball in front of us all night,” Ellis said. “I think we covered pretty well tonight.”

While the Kits got many fast break opportunities from their tenacious defense, the guard-heavy lineup spaces the floor efficiently, as they rely on open perimeter shots and attacking the basket.

On this occasion, the outside shots were falling as sophomore guard Blake Peters shot an impressive 7-10 from three-point range and finished with a game-high 24 points.

“My teammates did a great job finding me,” Peters said. “Conant was playing zone so there were some open spots. I just got myself into those spots and my teammates found me.”

Peters, an instrumental piece in last season’s success, was ecstatic to get back onto the floor for the first time since the team finished third in class 4A in Peoria last March.

“It was great getting back into the swing of things,” Peters said. “I’ve been looking forward to this game all offseason. High school basketball is the most fun you’ll ever have in your life so being back feels great.”