Evanston’s trio of junior guards Jaheim Holden, Lance Jones and Ryan Bost were held to just 23 points combined when the Kits and Vikings met in Skokie in mid-December. It was a different story Friday night in Beardsley Gym.
In front of a sellout crowd of over 2500 people, the three guards combined for 65 of ETHS’ 76 points. Bost scored a season-high 19 points while playing tenacious defense on Dravon Clayborn for the better part of the contest.
Jones, who only scored nine points in the first meeting, went for 22 on the night and 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Jones had to fight through both cramps and a rolled ankle late in the game.
Holden tallied 24, his highest output since the last game of the Thanksgiving tournament way back in November. Holden connected on 13 straight free throws down the stretch, going 16-18 from the line overall.
“Making free throws is part of your mental toughness,” Holden said while speaking with a reporter from Evanston Now after the win. “We’re tougher now than we were the last time we played them.”
Evanston had the lead for the majority of the contest and the margin was nine heading into the fourth quarter. But Niles North battled back as Demaria Franklin scored 18 points in the final quarter alone. Franklin hit a wide-open three-pointer to finally tie the game at 66 apiece with five seconds left in regulation. Franklin ended up with a game-high, 32 points.
Evanston had 4.7 seconds to get off a potential game-winning shot and recreate the ending that took place just one week ago. This time the ball went to Bost. He dribbled up the court and he got a shot up from just outside the three-point line. The ball was on line but a little too long. It hit the backboard and ricocheted off the rim. Overtime.
In the extra period, the Vikings won the tip and Franklin came down and dunked the ball with one hand, igniting mayhem in the Niles North student section.
The Vikings had all the momentum at that point, but the Kits battled back. Using acrobatic layups from Jones and clutch free throws from both Jones and Holden, ETHS escaped with a 76-72 win. Niles North’s slopping hand-checking defense didn’t help the Vikings either.
With the victory, Evanston improved to 17-4, 7-1 in league play. They also knocked Niles North out of the conference race as the Vikings dropped to 20-3, 5-3 in the CSL South.
Although Niles North has less overall losses the both Evanston and New Trier, the two teams left in contention, all of the Vikings’ defeats have come to conference teams, which makes it nearly impossible for them to win the league anymore.
Even though this ending wasn’t quite as exciting as the last one on the Beardsley floor, this very well could be the biggest win of the year.