Sweet-shooting Blake Peters, dynamic Evanston offense downs Rockford East

Evanston's Blake Peters (15) makes a move on Rockford East's Damarian Dickens (13), Friday 03-15-19. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times
Evanston's Blake Peters (15) makes a move on Rockford East's Damarian Dickens (13), Friday 03-15-19. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

PEORIA—Blake Peters’ shot is beautiful. It’s almost a shock when it doesn’t swish through the basket.

The Evanston sophomore was dazzling on Friday at Carver Arena, scoring 27 points and making 7-of-8 three-pointers to lead the Wildkits to a 94-82 win against Rockford East in the Class 4A state semifinals.

“My teammates gave me the ball in my spots, I have to credit them for that,” Peters said. “It just comes down to performing, and that’s what we did tonight.”

It was a record-setting performance for the Wildkits, who set Class 4A state records for points scored in a game, a half and a quarter.

“We came out like we were on a mission, and I think that was a big part of the reason we played so well — from the start at the jump ball on through halftime,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said.

The Wildkits were awe-inspiring in the first half. Their fast hands gave the E-Rabs fits defensively and the offense was a whirlwind of passing and jump shots.

“I think we all like being on the big stage, especially with what happened last year,” Peters said. “We were really hurt by that loss, and we just came here with a brotherhood theme.”


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Senior Lance Jones scored 24 and had eight assists and five rebounds for Evanston. Jaheim Holden scored 15. Sophomore Jaylin Gibson added 10 points and seven rebounds, and senior Ryan Bost scored 10.

“We just came out with that sense of urgency and confidence, and we knew what it took to perform at a high level,” Jones said.

Senior Chris Burnell led Rockford East (34-3) with 26 points, and Sha’Den Clanton had 20 points and seven rebounds. Highly-regarded junior Sincere Parker added 13 points and seven rebounds.

The E-Rabs, one of the state’s best teams this season, were just outclassed by the Wildkits (32-4). Most observers assumed the winner of the second semifinal, Belleville West vs. Curie, would be the favorite to win the title. Evanston’s performance likely changed many minds.

“We made a statement, but I think it’s going to be a bigger statement made tomorrow,” Holden said. “A lot of people think that we can’t stick with teams like Belleville and Curie because of the size that we have. But when we step in between those lines, we’re the toughest players, so it’s going to come down to that and we’re going to show people.”

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  • Ron Strong

    Wildkits are underrated and have been disrespected on all-state and all area team selections. Time for redemption tonight……. Go Kits!!!!!!

  • Leegs1

    If Belleville shoots 65%, as they did against Bolingbrook, and face guard Peters, as Rockford did in the second half, it won’t be close. That said, the Evanston v. Rockford game was a joy to watch. Pulling for Evanston!

  • CP3

    Norm/Steve great reviews.
    I think we have entered an era…now on thed high school level, as well as college and in the NBA, where the 3 is the ultimate equalizer. Height is nice, but pure shooting can’t be reached. Lance Jones is the best 2way guard in the state. With Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost, they have a senior trio that gets after it. The soph quartet led by Blake Peters, & Jaylin Gibson….are ready for the moment as well. Everyone thinks it’s a mismatch for Belleville. I see it the other way…..who does Liddell guard in the open floor? Who guards Lance Jones and Jaheim Holden who can get their shots in any 1 on 1 matchup?
    Prediction…..Evanston 68, Belleville West 61.

    • Norm

      I agree with your point of view. If Evanston can hit those 3’s they have a chance

    • Steve

      Curie was unable to play one on one vs belleville at all. Belleville doesnt let you get in the open court. Lidell is a much better one on one defender than you would think. The only way curie could isolate was with the smallest guy and even then he got only one tough layup using the rim as protection. Curie also other than the first possession of the game was unable to get open three point looks due to the perimeter length of all but brazil. The equalizer for evanston imo is their passing. They are the best passing high school team ive seen down here in over ten years or ever. And its not just one guy. That may be what leads to open looks. Curie had 14 points at half. The refs had nothing to do with that. It all had to do with bellevilles defense.

  • Norm

    In both 4A games a ridiculous number of fouls called. Luckily the teams that deserved to win did so and the officials didn’t cost a team a game. But part of the reason the Evanston game was so high scoring, besides the good 3 point shooting, was that everyone on both teams were in so much foul trouble that they couldn’t defend. So it was one uncontested layup after another for a lot of the game. Hearing a whistle on almost every possession gets to be too much after a while.

  • Steve

    Even though the score was not close this was a fantastic game to watch. Other than jones being able to guard whomever he was on neither team could guard each other. Evanston is the most balanced team thats been in peoria in awhile. Curie was outclassed by lidell making anything at the rim not a good decision. It will be interesting if the he is able to do the same tomorrow against evanston. Prediction- belleville 62. Evanston 52. I hope evanston wins, such a fun style to watch.

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