No team has done a better job defending Cooper Noard than Evanston in his four years as a starter on the Glenbrook South basketball team.
But for the most part, just a good quarter of Noard’s game did enough damage to Wildkits.
Noard did it again Friday night at the Beardsley Gymnasium, scoring 12 points in the third quarter to open up a tight contest and lifting the state’s No. 3 team to a 56-50 victory over the Wildkits.
Noard finished with 19 points and player Nick Martinelli added 12 as the Titans maintained their undefeated record in the Central Suburban League South division and improved to 15-1 for the season.
Evanston, now 11-5, did a significantly better job defending the Titans than he did in a previous 70-54 loss at GBS. But a pair of 3-pointers from Noard as part of a 9-0 run early in the second half helped the visitors find a comfort zone and play with the lead. They never returned, despite missing eight free throws in the fourth period.
David Gieser (14 points) and Rashawn Bost (12) marked ETHS, who shot 46% from the ground and only turned the ball more than 11 times on the turnaround.
Evanston coach Mike Ellis and his team recognized after their first showdown with the Titans that trying to play a game in the ’70s with the Titans was not going to end well. The Kits played under control on Friday night and Ellis said it was definitely a step in the right direction for his club.
“We only had 11 turnovers and I liked that,” said Ellis. “This is the first game in a long time that we’ve had fewer turnovers than our opponents. If we manage to take care of the ball like that, we have a good chance of winning our next games. [Saturday against Rolling Meadows, Monday versus Loyola Academy].
“They capitalized on their opportunities better than we did tonight. We still want our players to play freely, and they did a good job of finding some mismatches tonight. But when you rush into attack, sometimes you skip the options you have to score.”
Noard kicked two aerials and scored just one bucket in the first half, a 3-pointer in the final minute that helped the Titans take a 26-22 lead in the locker room. But the Wildkit defense lost track of him in the third period and the senior guard fired four straight shots to extend the lead to Glenbrook South.
“He’s a Division I point guard, one of the best in our conference, and with his efficiency and shooting range, he can score from anywhere on the field,” said Ellis. “You won’t stop him. Just being a four-year starter in our league shows how special he is. Between them, he and Martinelli scored 40 points the last time we played them, and tonight they scored 31. With players like that, you’re not going to keep your stats below your average.”
Glenbrook South extended the lead to 15 points at 49-34 after scoring the first 6 points of the final period before the Wildkits returned. But the hosts couldn’t get any closer than that final margin, as a pair of baskets from Bost and another from rookie Yaris Irby in the last minute kept the final respectable.
Prince Adams added 9 points and five rebounds for Evanston.