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Evanston completes clean sweep of New Trier

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The Evanston, New Trier rivalry dates back to over a century when in 1913, both teams were founding members of the old Suburban League.

105 years later, hardly anything has changed.

Fans from both teams filled Gates Gymnasium in Winnetka to the rafters to watch the Evanston boys and girls basketball teams topple New Trier in a Friday night doubleheader.

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The night’s festivities commenced with a rematch between the Evanston and New Trier girls teams.

Like the first time the two teams played, Evanston used their speed and athleticism to overcome the Trevians, this time in tune of a 52-48 win.

Evanston had control of the game for the entirety of the first half with New Trier bouncing between not being able to score, or not being able to stop Evanston from getting clean looks.

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The inconsistency from the Trevians and a hot shooting start from Delaney Brooks (13 points) allowed Evanston to take a seven point halftime lead.

Despite being outplayed for the entire first half, New Trier flipped the switch in the second half. The Trevians got a huge boost from Tinah Hong and actually pulled ahead late in the third quarter.

However, that lead was short lived as Evanston sophomore Kayla Henning took over the game in the fourth quarter. Henning (14 points) relentlessly attacked the rim and seemingly scored a basket every time Evanston needed it the most.

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One final three pointer from Brooks with two minutes left put Evanston up five and essentially sealed the deal for the Wildkits 52-45 win.

With one great game already in the books, it seemed unlikely that the boys game could top that level of intensity, especially with reports that Lance Jones was suffering from an ankle injury sustained in practice.

But the nightcap was anything but a letdown, as the Evanston boys rallied back from as many as 15 points to defeat New Trier 50-49 in overtime.

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“The key to that game was definitely defense,” said Evanston head coach Mike Ellis. “To hold a team like that to under 50 points is one of the main reasons we were in that game to begin with, especially with the size and shooters that they have.”

For the first half of the game, Evanston had major issues slowing down New Trier’s Ciaran Brayboy.

The 6’9″ center had his way with the Evanston post defenders. His presence not only helped his own scoring output, but it also led to open looks from the perimeter when Evanston began to double down on him.

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Behind 11 first half points from Brayboy, New Trier raced out to a 31-22 halftime lead, which was only that close due to a half court buzzer beater from Jones.

Even though Evanston seemingly got a shot in the arm after Jones’ half court heave, the Wildkits were still struggling to make up ground early in the third quarter.

That all started to change with the introduction of Reggie Henley into the game. Even though he was giving up almost a foot to Brayboy, Henley did not allow the New Trier junior any easy looks at the basket.

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Ellis said: “Reggie is a competitor, and he said it in the locker room before the game, lets win this one for the seniors it’s out last game at New Trier.”

“Knowing we were outmatched in terms of size, I just wanted to give my best effort on the boards,” added Henley. “It was just a never back down attitude, and I’m so proud of our guys for stepping up. Winning this game was amazing, best feeling of my life so far.”

Behind Henley’s defensive effort, Evanston started to shut down the New Trier offense and climb back into the game. The Wildkits would finally take the lead on the last play of the third quarter, with a Harry Porter three which sent the Evanston fans into a frenzy.

Holding onto a slim lead, Evanston attempted to hold the ball for much of the fourth quarter against New Trier’s 1-3-1 zone. The Wildkits only scored one field goal in the quarter, but ran minutes off the clock at a time.

Ellis said: “Lance has picked up his intensity, decision making and his leadership. He’s been our best player at practice the past few weeks, and I think he feels like it’s his responsibility to help out team pick up our level of play.”

New Trier would patiently chip away at the Evanston lead, and despite going 5/15 from the free throw line in the game, they hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to tie the game.

That is where things got wacky.

With 20 second remaining, Evanston had the ball with a chance to win the game. A Blake Peters missed a three led to a New Trier runout which looked as though it would end the game, but Jones came up big once again with a block to send the game into overtime.

There was no breathing room for either team during the overtime session. Evanston got out to a quick lead, but New Trier managed to counter punch nearly every single time.

The game would eventually settle with the Wildkits clinging to a one point lead with just seconds to go, but the defense held strong one final time, as they forced Andrew Kirkpatrick into an extremely difficult game winning attempt which was well off.

The 50-49 win for Evanston extends their lengthy winning streak over the Trevians to nine games, stretching back to the 2013-14 season.

Jones finished the night with 15 points, six reboounds and five steals, with Brayboy leading New Trier with 15 points, just four of those coming in the second half.

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