Glenbrook South basketball beats Evanston, moves to IHSA sectional final
Glenbrook South's early offense in the first two games of the playoffs was "a little concerning," Titans boys basketball coach Phil Ralston said.
He and the rest of the Titan Dome faithful had no worries Tuesday, jumping to a fast start against Evanston that led to a 69-53 victory in a Class 4A Glenbrook South sectional semifinal.
"We just told our guys, listen, we can't keep spotting people and then playing catch-up. Let's come out strong early, and our guys did," said Ralston, who before coming to Glenview led Geneva to fourth place in 2015.
"You kind of felt the energy that we had at the end of the first quarter where our guys were up on the tips of their toes and they were ready to go, and there was no hesitation on shots, and we went right at them. That's kind of what we've been asking them to do and didn't get in our first two regional games. We got it tonight," Ralston said.
Beating No. 5 seed Evanston for the third time this season, No. 1 seed Glenbrook South (32-2) advanced to Friday's sectional final against Wednesday's winner between No. 2 New Trier and No. 3 Rolling Meadows.
The Titans split two regular-season games with New Trier -- joining juggernaut Glenbard West as the only teams to beat them -- and previously beat Rolling Meadows 89-82.
Evanston coach Mike Ellis, proud of the Wildkits' compete level regardless of the outcome, rightly figured his squad would be severely challenged by Glenbrook South's "all-state seniors" -- Nick Martinelli and Cooper Noard -- particularly on their home court.
"This is their last chance," Ellis said. "We needed to have a little more support. We just didn't make the plays when they were in front of us to be made, and Glenbrook South did; I think that was the difference in the game."
Martinelli, his footwork in the lane and lefty finger roll hard to guard, scored 9 of a game-high 26 points to lead Glenbrook South to a 19-8 lead after one quarter and 37-21 at halftime.
Not alone in lighting it up, point guard Noard hit a pair of 3s and scored 10 second-quarter points. The Cornell commit, who took an elbow worth 15 stitches in the Titans' tight regional final win Friday over Niles North, finished with 18 points. Junior guard Gaven Marr scored 11 with 5 rebounds.
"It's five guys playing together," said Noard, Glenbrook South's third all-time scorer, right behind Martinelli.
"This group is so special, and our team chemistry is just off the charts. The way we play off each other, the way we play together just allows us to get on teams right away," Noard said.
Senior guard Rashawn Bost scored 21 points for Evanston (21-10).
Countering their halftime deficit the Wildkits played right with Glenbrook South to start the third quarter. Athletic, 6-foot-5 junior Prince Adams two-handed a dunk and Bost scored an 8-point flurry that trimmed the Titan lead to 43-31 at 4:35 of the third quarter.
Martinelli's all-around game stopped Evanston's momentum and put the Titans back in firm control.
The 6-foot-7 swingman spun through the lane for a basket, scored inside off an R.J. Davis assist, stole the ball, drew a fifth foul on Adams and dished a no-look pass to Marr for an easy lay in.
"I just play basketball, just take what they give me," Martinelli said after collecting 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and shooting 11 of 14 from the field.
Senior forward Spencer Brown's steal led to Marr's putback basket to cap a 10-0 Titans run and close the third quarter with a 53-31 lead. Evanston would not draw close again.
A quarter later Glenbrook South ended its scoring on senior Mason Adams' crowd-pleasing, throw-down dunk.
"It's that genuine bond that we have with each other that's taking us where we've been this season," Martinelli said.