Winnetka, Sports

Third-quarter burst from Trevians, Kirkpatrick sparks rivalry win in Evanston

It can take a while for jet lag to wear off. For New Trier boys basketball, it was four days and about one half.

The Trevians, fresh off a three-day tournament in Arizona, didn’t quite look like themselves to begin a rivalry bout with Evanston Thursday night. But after halftime, New Trier snapped out of it.

“We did not play well in the first half. We did not do things we normally do to be successful,” Trevs coach Scott Fricke said. “We talked about it at halftime. Even though we were up, it was not a friendly halftime talk. We needed to do a lot of things better.”

The wakeup call worked, and New Trier extended its four-point halftime lead to a 14-point advantage in the quarter before coasting to a 50-37 victory in Evanston.

Trevians sophomore Chris Kirkpatrick sparked his team’s third-quarter surge. The guard drained two three-pointers, converted a three-point play, and added another creative drive and finish to score 11 of his game-high 15 points in the period.

“Something just clicked. I just felt I had to do more to help the team scoring-wise and just be myself,” Kirkpatrick said.

The victory is New Trier’s eighth in a row, a streak that included a successful visit to Saguaro, Arizona, in which the Trevians went 3-0 to collect a tournament championship. Senior Ian Brown was name the tourney’s MVP, and Kirkpatrick and Logan Feller made the All-Tournament team.

New Trier’s only loss this season was to Warren on Nov. 28.

The Trevians Colby Smith takes the ball to the rim.

On Thursday, the Trevians played the nightcap in a rivalry doubleheader known as the Bost Family Classic hosted by Evanston Township High School.

Out of the gates, both teams looked off-kilter but thanks to senior forward Will Leemaster’s big first quarter (4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks), the Trevs held a 12-3 lead.

Evanston closed the gap, and New Trier managed just six second-quarter points to limp into halftime with the 18-14 lead.

“We weren’t getting shots out of our offense. We were forcing stuff,” Fricke said. “We have a lot of young kids on the team and it was one those things where we were like, ‘What’s going on here?’ … We just weren’t playing our game. And our game is getting great shots for each other, getting assists and working out of our offense.”

Kirkpatrick was the primary beneficiary of the improved play.

The sophomore has settled into his spot in the starting five and is becoming a reliable threat in the Trevs offense. In Arizona, Kirkpatrick dropped 27 points in the championship game.

“It’s really nice when you have a bunch of seniors like Will (Leemaster), Ian (Brown) and Logan (Feller), who welcome you and don’t really treat you like a sophomore,” he said. “They just really helped my experience and my growth as a player.”

After grabbing the advantage against Evanston, the Trevs played measured in final quarter and bled the clock to claim the rivalry win.

Feller added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals; Leemaster finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks; Brown had 4 points and 6 rebounds; and Colby Smith 6 points and 4 rebounds.

The Trevians next head to the Pontiac Holiday Classic Dec. 28-30, when they will be the No. 4 seed. The power-packed bracket features Class 4A state runnerup Benet Academy, and highly ranked Curie and Bloom, as well as Joliet West, Lockport and other storied programs.

After the New Year, the Trevians travel twice more before returning home — to Glenbrook North on Jan. 5 and Oak Park-River Forest on Jan. 9.

“I think we’ve taken huge strides in the last three weeks,” Fricke said. “We were winning games early in the year but we weren’t playing the way we want to play and we’re starting to play that way. We’re getting better every game, but we still have a long way to go.”

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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