On a cold, blustery night, it seemed that there were more people in historic Gates Gym to watch the Wildkits take on the Trevians than anywhere else.
In the first game of the girls-boys doubleheader, it was deja vu from the first meeting in Evanston. The Wildkits used their athletic ability to create a little separation early on, leading 13-6 after the first quarter and 25-18 at the half.
Then, like in the first meeting, the Trevians went on a run of their own to begin the second half, outscoring Evanston 17-11 in the third quarter. New Trier was only down by a single point heading into the final quarter and was riding momentum too. But that’s when sophomore point guard Kayla Henning decided to show everyone in the gym why she is a Division I prospect. She took the ball to the basket almost at will in the final period scoring eight of her 14 points when it mattered the most.
New Trier couldn’t figure out how to stop Henning, and her offensive success led to team success on defense. Evanston came away with a 52-45 victory, ending the game on a 16-6 run. Evanston improved to 13-7, (4-2) and New Trier fell to 14-5 (4-2).
Evanston: Kayla Henning 14 pts. 6 reb. Ambrea Gentle 13 pts. 13 reb.
New Trier: Cate Murdock 14 pts.
The boys game, between two top 25 teams in Illinois lived up to the hype and then some. The Trevians started fast behind twin towers 6’9″ Ciaran Brayboy and 6’8″ Spencer Boehm, the Kits only having one player over 6’6″. New Trier got anything it wanted inside early on and was up 14-7 after one.
The same narrative continued in the second quarter with Brayboy scoring 11 of his 16 points in the first half. Evanston was down 31-22 at halftime only because of a half court buzzer-beater by Lance Jones.
In the second half, with 6’7″ Matt Hall in foul trouble, the Kits had to find some way to stop the big men inside. They turned to senior Reggie Henley. And he did his job. Henley, who is easily half a foot shorter than Brayboy, shut him down as Brayboy only added five points in the whole second half. As for Boehm, Jones continued to frustrate him with pesky defense. Boehm finished with 11 points.
Henley’s defense led to turnovers which led to easy baskets and the Kits crawled back into the game. Evanston used a big three-pointer late in the third by fan-favorite Harry Porter to grab their first lead of the contest 45-42 heading into the fourth.
If somebody said the fourth quarter was a defensive struggle that would be a huge understatement. The two teams combined for only nine points in the entire quarter, six for New Trier and three for Evanston. The Kits clamped down defensively and forced either a turnover or a very difficult shot each time New Trier had possession. Offensively, Evanston implemented a four-corners strategy to take time off the clock. But the decision was controversial since it allowed time to come off the clock but always ended in a turnover low percentage shot, that was missed.
Brayboy sank a pair of free throws with 26 seconds remaining to tie it up at 45. Evanston ran a quality play on offense, resulting in an open look for freshman sharp-shooter Blake Peters.
His shot was right on target but was way too long and the ball hit nothing until New Trier rebounded it. Peters finished with four points and went without hitting a three.
When the Trevians pulled down the board, there was still about four seconds remaining and Griffin Ryan was wide open for an outlet pass. The ball found Ryan’s hands and there were no defenders in his path. But, streaking down the court was Lance Jones. Jones flew to the other end and blocked Ryan’s game-winning layup from behind. The play quickly drew comparisons to LeBron James’ chase-down block of the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala in game seven of the 2016 NBA finals.
As the buzzer sounded, it was deadlocked 45-45.
Neither team could score very much in the overtime either. But the Kits found themselves clinging to a 50-49 lead with 3.5 seconds remaining. New Trier had the ball and had to inbound the ball on the right sideline about 20 feet from their basket.
Instead of going inside to either Boehm or Brayboy, the Trevians elected to inbound it to point guard Andrew Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick did fight up a shot, but it was a contested fall-away three, and it came up well short. 50-49 Kits win.
New Trier fell to 10-3 (4-1) and Evanston improved to 13-3 (4-1). The two teams find themselves currently in a three-way tie for first place in the CSL South with the Niles North Vikings.
Evanston: Lance Jones 15 pts. 8 reb. 6 stl. Jaheim Holden 10 pts.
New Trier: Ciaran Brayboy 16 pts. Spencer Boehm 11 pts. Andrew Kirkpatrick 11 pts.