If Mike Ellis was handing out grades for Evanston’s regional basketball tournament opener Tuesday night, the head coach would probably give most of the Wildkits an A --- for aggressive --- and maybe throw in a C --- for careless play in the fourth quarter.
On balance, however, Evanston resembled the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A Maine South Sectional complex by routing Chicago Foreman 66-48 in the regional semifinals at Maine East.
The Wildkits scored more than a passing grade and notched their 20th victory of the season while advancing to Friday’s regional championship contest against Notre Dame. The Dons eliminated host Maine East 51-44 in the other regional semifinal Tuesday.
Evidence of Evanston’s aggressive play was the fact that the Kits got to the free throw line 28 times, far more than usual even in some of their lopsided wins.
Elijah Henry (16 points, 8 rebounds), Will Jones (14 points, 2 steals) and C.J. Singletary (11 points, 5 rebounds) played the biggest roles as ETHS reached the 20-victory plateau by shifting into attack mode after the score was tied at 11-11 after the first quarter.
Evanston outscored Foreman 37-14 over the next two periods, and only 8 turnovers committed by the winners in the final quarter helped Foreman close to within 11 points with two and one-half minutes remaining.
On the night, Evanston converted 16-of-28 at the free throw line while improving to 20-8 on the season.
“We talked a lot about being aggressive going to the basket, and having that aggressive mentality tonight,” Ellis said. “Instead of settling for jump shots, we tried to go to the basket as much as we could. I thought for the most part we played with poise against their zone trap. We did make too many mistakes in the first half of the fourth quarter, with some turnovers and some sloppy play, but we’ve got confidence in all 15 guys on this team.”
ETHS limited the losers to 10-of-39 shooting from the floor over the first three periods before the Hornets were able to convert some turnovers into layups. Overall, Foreman connected on 33 percent (18-of-55).
Second-half highlights for the Wildkits including a tip-dunk by Henry off a missed free throw, and a rebound basket by freshman Jerome Bynum, who notched the first points of his varsity career.
Friday’s championship game is set for 7 p.m. at Maine East. The Kits defeated Notre Dame 50-38 in November at the Lane Tech Thanksgiving Tournament.