‘I’ve had this game circled’ Glenbrook North beats Evanston, makes early statement

“We wanted this game,” Glenbrook North junior Patrick Schaller said. “It’s not too early to say this was a statement for us.”

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Glenbrook North’s Ryan Cohen (11) reacts after winning the game against Evanston.

Glenbrook North’s Ryan Cohen (11) reacts after winning the game against Evanston.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

It’s only the third week of the season. Even conference matchups can sometimes have the feel of a lazy start to a long marathon.

That’s not the case in Northbrook. A big crowd was on hand to see Glenbrook North take on Evanston, curious to find out if the recent hype around the No. 12 Spartans was for real.

“We wanted this game,” Glenbrook North junior Patrick Schaller said. “It’s not too early to say this was a statement for us.”

The Spartans delivered, knocking off No.19 Evanston 71-59.

Glenbrook North has played second fiddle to several CSL South rivals over the last decade, but coach Quin Hayes now has the pieces in place for a special season.

“It all starts with [Josh Fridman],” Hayes said. “He controls everything we do.”

Fridman is a true point guard. He’s just 5-9 but can dominate a game. The junior led the Spartans (7-0, 2-0) with 21 points and was there to calm things down or heat them up at just the right moments.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the state, “ Hayes said. “I’m biased because he’s on my team but I’d hate to play against him.”

Evanston’s defense was focused on shutting down senior Ryan Cohen, Glenbrook North’s dynamic scorer. Schaller made them pay. The 6-6 Northwestern football recruit finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. He was 8 of 11 shooting.

“That’s the best game I’ve seen Patrick play,” Cohen said. “He brought it, bullied inside and played really good defense.”

The Spartans led by 10 at halftime and that continued through most of the second half. A three-pointer by Evanston’s Morgan Brown cut the deficit to 62-57 with 1:38 left. But that was the last basket the Wildkits (7-1, 1-1) would manage.

“I’ve had this game circled since before the season even started,” said Cohen. “They knocked us out of the playoffs last year.”

Cohen scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds. He was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes.

“I wasn’t frustrated in the first half,” Cohen said. “I know my teammates are backing me up. Two people are going to come at me when I come off a screen but if my teammates are scoring that’s ok with me.”

Senior Hunter Duncan led Evanston with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Prince Adams, a 6-5 senior, started well but then sat with foul trouble and finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

Fridman and Cohen returning meant big expectations for Glenbrook North this season. Schaller’s emergence adds another dimension to the Spartans.

“He came out and just played with a chip on his shoulder and played tough,” Hayes said. “He played the way we’ve been waiting for him to play. He’s kind of been beaten up the last two years. He’s kind of taken a lot of that grunt and it’s fun to see him dish it out now. He’s gotten really good around the rim.”

Watch the final minute of Evanston at Glenbrook North:

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