It was only a month ago that the Trevians seemed in disarray. New Trier had lost four of their last five games and coach Scott Fricke ripped his team for the lack of effort they showed on the road against Maine South.
But since their 52-35 drubbing against the Hawks, New Trier has rallied, winning seven of eight and getting back into contention for the conference championship. Their hot streak continued against Evanston on Saturday night as the Trevians rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat their CSL South rival, 47-43.
“We wanted our young team to grow up and be good at the end of the year and it’s turned out like that,” Fricke said.
Evanston looked inside early and often to start Saturday’s game. The Wildkits’ 6-foot-8 senior forward James Farr scored nine of his 15 points in the first five minutes and Evanston led 14-7 after the first quarter. For the quarter the Wildkits shot 6-for-10 from the field, including two three-pointers.
However, New Trier started to settle in on defense from that point on. A steal by Connor Boehm led to an easy transition layup for Reid Berman and Evanston’s lead was cut to three points. Yet Evanston maintained its lead and still led by seven at halftime, 25-18.
But the Trevians owned the second half and took the lead with under 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. Boehm was fouled on a drive to the bucket and converted two free throws to give New Trier a 33-31 lead going into the final period.
“I liked the way we came out in the second half and got after it,” Fricke said. “That’s the only thing we talked about in the locker room was coming out in the second half and getting after it because I don’t think we were in the first half.”
Early in the fourth it looked as if New Trier was primed to pull away. After Austin Angel made one of two free throws, Reid Berman found Boehm for a dunk off a backdoor pass to give the Trevians a five-point lead at 36-31.
Boehm’s dunk was one of three buckets Evanston gave up on backdoor cuts during the fourth quarter.
“When you give up those backdoor dunks, those are unguardable; just handing them two points every time,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. “It doesn’t matter how well you play team defense, if one guy breaks down they have the floor spread like that, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Yet Evanston still managed to take the lead with under three minutes to go when junior guard Josh Irving nailed a three-pointer to put the Wildkits up one point, 41-40.
New Trier guard David Bragiel made two free throws with less than two minutes left to give New Trier the lead for good and Angel’s layup with seven seconds left capped the night’s scoring.
Boehm led New Trier with 28 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Angel had eight rebounds to pace the Trevians on the boards and scored 11 points.
“It’s night and day with [Austin]. We’re a whole different team with him,” Boehm said. “He goes at the rim to score, he’s a shooter, he rebounds and that’s what we needed in the second half after the first half where we got owned on the offensive boards.”
New Trier hosts Maine South next Friday with a chance to win a share of the CSL South title. Maine South beat the Trevians at home, 52-35, in mid-January.
“We did the little things tonight,” Fricke said. “It’s just a big win because we’ve been playing well and now we’ve put ourselves with a chance to win Friday and win the conference.”