Evanston has stayed in the Super 25 all season long. A trio of freshman, Blake Peters, Elijah Bull and Jaylin Gibson, have been a big part of that success.
But there was one freshman sensation from Evanston that opted to head to Notre Dame instead. The Dons are under .500 this season, so Anthony Sayles hasn’t received as much attention as the freshmen at Evanston or some of the other young players around the area.
Sayles announced his arrival on the scene in a major way on Tuesday in Glenview, scoring a career-high 30 points to lead Notre Dame to a 61-56 win against Maine West in the Class 4A Glenbrook South regional semifinal.
“I had to get that tonight for us to get the win,” Sayles said. “I felt confident. Both teams got talking and that got me juiced up and caught up in the moment.”
Notre Dame (14-15) led by six after three quarters. The Dons are a very young team, with only threeseniors receiving significant playing time. The Warriors are senior-dominated and played a bruising, high-intensity game. Their high school careers were on the line.
“We were very aware of that and we told our guys that over the last two days, that these guys were playing for their careers,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. “We really respect what Maine West did this year. They won the [CSL North] and beat New Trier on Wednesday. We’ve played a lot of big games lately. Our experience down the stretch paid dividends tonight. When things got rough we responded.”
Sayles scored 18 in the first half. The Warriors (19-10) didn’t have a player capable of sticking him one-on-one.
“The moment was there and he stepped up,” Clancy said. “Anthony is the one that made things happen for us, getting to the basket and creating opportunities for us. He was able to get to the rim.”
Notre Dame’s Dusan Mahorcic, a 6-9 senior, has had a breakout season. He gave the Dons a lift early in the third quarter, scoring seven quick points to help them build a ten-point lead. Mahorcic finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
“[Sayles] really came out for us today,” Mahorcic said. “I’m going to show on Friday who I am. No one was talking to us before this and that was a good thing. We had no pressure.”
Julian Dones led Maine West with 21 points. Milos Dugalic scored 11 and grabbed seven rebounds.
Matt Kentgen (four points, 11 rebounds) and Jack Collins (nine points, six rebounds) were maximum effort players, clearly the post forces that led Maine West to its unexpected CSL North title.
Sayles is going to get a chance to face the Evanston freshmen on Friday. The Wildkits beat the host Titans 51-38 in the first game of the regional semifinal doubleheader.
Junior Jaheim Holden led Evanston (22-5) with 20 points and five rebounds and junior Lance Jones added 12 points and six rebounds.
Junior Jimmy McMahon led Glenbrook South (9-19) with 13 points.
“No offense to [the other freshmen] but I think I should be at the top,” Sayles said. “They are all good players, all poised. That’s going to be a good game against my hometown, I can’t wait to play it.”