While Jaheim Holden had a nice regular season, averaging about 14 points per game, he played like a true star in the Glenbrook South Regional Tournament.
In the first game, a 51-38 triumph over host GBS, Holden tallied 20 points and converted all 7 of his free throw attempts.
The contest was too close for comfort for the first three quarters, Evanston only leading by 4 points at halftime and 10 at the end of the third. But Holden’s 6 points in the final period, a spectacular tip dunk by Lance Jones and a timely three-pointer from Blake Peters helped Evanston extend their lead as the clock hit zero.
The Kits also forced an astounding 24 turnovers but struggled to capitalize as their offense looked sluggish for most of the game.
GBS held the Kits to a measly 9 points after the first quarter and 19 at the half. ETHS’ total output of 51 points was 11 under their season average of 62. Nevertheless, Evanston survived and advanced.
In game two of the Regional Tournament, the Regional championship, the Kits looked better on offense and put up roughly the same numbers on defense, forcing 18 steals and 23 turnovers in all.
Holden erupted once more. This time for a career-high 29 points. He sank 12 of 18 shots from the field and also pitched in on defense, accounting for 4 steals.
“I just have to lead in any way possible to help the team,” Holden told a reporter from Evanston Now. “I have a chip on my shoulder from last year (super-sectional loss). So winning today was an accomplishment. But we’re far from finished. The goal we have is to get Downstate.”
The game was also very personal for one Notre Dame player. Anthony Sayles, who lives in Evanston, had talked some trash about the ETHS freshman trio, was held to 7 points and committed 7 turnovers after scoring 30 points in ND’s Regional Semifinal win over Maine West.
The tandem of bigs for the Kits, Matt Hall and Jaylin Gibson were faced with stopping ND’s monster inside, 6’9” Dusan Mahorcic. The two did just enough, making him work for every basket, to keep him from single-handedly eliminating Evanston. Mahorcic scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
“I thought Matt and Jaylin both stepped up and did a tremendous job in the second half against Mahorcic,” coach Mike Ellis told Evanston Now. “Because of them, Notre Dame didn’t have the safety net of just being able to throw it into him, and their guards had to create more out in front.”
Evanston’s two other junior guards, Jones and Ryan Bost also had productive games on both sides of the ball. Jones tallied 10 points and 4 steals and Bost added 20 points and 3 steals. Lance and Ryan took turns guarding Sayles who never found his rhythm offensively.
The Kits were only up by 2 at the half, 28-26, and that only because of a 30-foot buzzer-beater three from Holden. But with quarter scores of 19-11 and 19-14, ETHS pulled away in the second half.
In the last minute of play, both coaches put their subs in, Mahorcic’s only rest of the game, and even recent call-up Jerome “Jigga” Smith saw playing time. The sophomore guard is listed at 5’5” but that is very generous. He is a whopping 110 pounds.
Evanston will play in the Sectional semifinal at Maine East on Tuesday at 7pm. against Loyola who discarded Maine South in the Regional championship at Maine South 48-29.
In the other two Regional championships in the Maine East Sectional Niles North survived St. Viator 68- 60 and New Trier got past Prospect 53-35. The two winners will meet on Wednesday at 7pm.