A common theme in the Evanston locker room this season has been “leave your legacy.”
So when the 2017-18 version of the Wildkits had an opportunity to play in front of the 1968 state championship team, they put on a show that would have made even the best Evanston teams proud.
While the night celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest high school basketball teams in state history, Evanston celebrated a 81-66 win over Oak Park-River Forest to win their second game against ranked opponents on back to back nights.
“We talk about the history of Evanston Township High School basketball and leaving your mark in history,” said Ellis. “It’s important to these guys, they understand that tradition and it’s an appreciation more than anything else.”
“Our mindset is we’re not going to lose in Beardsley Gym,” added junior guard Ryan Bost. “Teams come into our back yard and we just try to keep everybody out. Coach talks about it every home game, nobody should be celebrating here except for us.”
One concern for Evanston entering Saturday evening’s contest, was how their bodies and minds would react after playing in a fast paced, overtime game against Niles North less than 24 hours beforehand.
Any questions of fatigue were quickly erased as Evanston started the game on a 16-0 run to put the Wildkits firmly in control.
“That was a big concern,” said Ellis. “We felt that it was going to be a challenge to come out ready to play and not have a hangover from last night.”
Leading the way for Evanston for a second straight night was junior guard Ryan Bost. Bost posted a near triple-double with a game high 24 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
Since moving positions on the floor to be the primary ball handler, Bost’s stats have taken a significant uptick, with Bost being more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball to compliment his fellow juniors Lance Jones and Jaheim Holden.
Bost said: “I was more used to the one position so when he moved me back it made things easier for me to score as well as facilitate.”
After jumping out to the early lead, Evanston continued to pile on the points, maintaining a double digit lead for the entirety of the game, capped off by a monstrous 29 point fourth quarter to close out the game in style.
While Bost’s 24 points paced the Wildkits he was joined in double figure by three of his fellow starters including Holden (18), Blake Peters (17) and Jones (13).
Even though Evanston put on a thoroughly dominating display, the Wildkits will have to put on their best performance yet again as they face a red hot Loyola side, whose defense gives even the best offensive teams fits.
Ellis said: “This is a stretch where we’re playing three ranked teams in a row. This is what we need this time of year though, to set yourself up for the postseason and become hardened going through those experiences. So far our guys have answered that and now it’s just a matter of not being satisfied.”