That’s not how New Trier High School envisioned the first court storm in its new gym.
Evanston Township players and fans earned that honor Friday night following a 37-35 victory in Winnetka.
The intense rivalry showdown came down to the final seconds. Following a foul away from the basket, Wildkits junior Ian Peters sank two free throws with 16 seconds to play to give his team the lead. Despite stout ETHS defense, the Trevians found two decent looks at a game-winning 3-pointer, but both were off the mark — encapsulating the night that was for New Trier and cuing an on-court celebration for the Wildkits faithful.
“We skip (the ball) and get a wide open look, and I take that look any day of the week. And then I think we got another one,” New Trier coach Scott Fricke said. “Give (Evanston) credit, but we did not play well.”
A sold-out crowd visited Winnetka for the first New Trier-Evanston basketball battle in the Trevians new athletic facilities, which opened this school year.
The doubleheader began with a high-flying girls contest, in which the Wildkits prevailed 79-68 after turning around an eight-point halftime deficit (details below).
In between the contests, New Trier honored the eight new members of its athletics Hall of Honor.
While the celebration wouldn’t last, New Trier did jump out to a 12-6 lead, thanks to first-quarter threes from Ian Brown and Danny Houlihan and two inside buckets from Colby Smith (9 points).
The Trevians shooting woes began in the second quarter, when it made just one field goal — a Chris Kirkpatrick (8 points) three. The Wildkits (19-9) limited the Trevians’ prolific three-point shooting, and the Trevians, in turn, were missing their shots near the rim.
Evanston cut the Trevs’ lead to just two, 19-17, by halftime.
“We got shots off, we didn’t make a lot,” Fricke said. “We missed free throws. We missed bunnies at the rim. It seemed like we could’t make a shot. I thought our defense did a pretty good job. We held them to 37 points.”
The home team’s struggles only mounted in the second half, as they scored just six points to the visitors’ 11, which gave Evanston a 28-25 advantage heading into the final period.
The Wildkits kept New Trier off the glass throughout the period and second half, outrebounding the Trevs 10-5 in the third quarter.
Fricke and senior Logan Feller (9 points) said the Trevians were affected by the Wildkits’ defensive pressure. Instead of attacking it, they played with it, both lamented.
“They were doing a great job putting pressure on the ball and making it hard for us getting into our offense and doing what we want to do,” Feller said. “A lot of credit to them, but for us, we have to come into these games with a different mentality and more toughness in mind. We have to be the ones that force the issue in the future.”
The rivals went toe to toe in the fourth quarter, trading points and long possessions.
After both teams made 1-of-2 free throws, the game was knotted at 35-35 with a minute to play and the ball in New Trier’s possession.
But the Trevians threw the ball away, and a third straight Trevs’ foul put Evanston’s Peters on the free-throw line for the eventual game-winning points in the Wildkits’ fourth straight victory.
The loss was New Trier’s sixth of the season. Five of those losses were decided by five points or fewer.
“We got to find a way to win these one-, two-point games,” Feller said. “Last year … we came out on top in those really close, gritty games. We’re right there. The difference between winning and losing at the high school level is so small. It’s just making that one play at any point in the game to get us over the hump. We know how close we are and this is all just a learning experience for the playoffs and this is not going to happen again.”
The result gave the Trevians (22-6, 6-2) their second Central Suburban League South loss of the season, but unexpectedly, it did not squash their chances of a league title. That’s because a few miles away on Friday, Maine South — previously winless in the CSL South — shocked league frontrunner Glenbrook North with a 47-38 victory.
If New Trier tops GBS (20-5, 5-3) on Feb. 6 and GBN (21-5, 8-1) on Feb. 9— both games in Winnetka — to finish its conference season, the Trevians and Spartans will each get a share of the conference crown.
New Trier girls’ lead slips disappears in second half
In the night’s opener, New Trier senior Sela Klein put on a show in the first half, scoring 19 points to help her team out to an eight-point halftime lead, 36-28.
But Evanston used halftime to regroup and flipped the script on their hosts in the third quarter.
The Wildkits went on a 21-4 run to start the second half and went into the final quarter with a 55-45 lead.
The Trevians didn’t back down, however, scoring 23 points in the final quarter. But it wasn’t enough, as Evanston earned a 79-68 victory.
Wildkits senior Kailey Starks scored 24 of her game-high 28 points in the second half, while Zuri Ransom added 19 and Arianna Milam-Pryor 15.
Klein finished with 22 for the Trevians, while Charlotte Dellin had 13 and KJ Sacarro 12.
The loss keeps New Trier head coach Teri Rodgers at 599 wins for another night. The Trevians will try to give Rodgers win No. 600 on Saturday, Feb. 3, against Schaumburg. New Trier then hosts Maine East on Tuesday, Feb. 6, and Libertyville on Thursday, Feb. 8.
The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.
Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.
Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.