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Evanston's Nibra White is defended by Niles West's Joe Younan during a basketball game Friday, December 14, 2012 in Evanston. I David Banks~Sun-Times Media

In the first quarter of their game Friday night versus Niles West, Evanston head coach Mike Ellis sent guard Pete Winslow to the bench following a foolish mental error on defense. Winslow had allowed his man to drive using his strong hand, allowing an easy layup in the process. The coach had repeatedly instructed his team to make opponents use their weak hands whenever possible, and this was Ellis’ chance to send a message that laziness on defense wouldn’t be tolerated.

Thankfully for the coach, and the Wildkits, Winslow eventually came off the pine. The senior laid in the game-winning shot with five seconds remaining, helping host Evanston to a tough 55-52 victory in the Central Suburban South.

“It was frustrating,” Winslow said of his “stupid” mental error that forced him to the bench for parts of the first half. “Thankfully I was able to put that play behind me, move on to the next one and help my team.”

Down 45-35 midway through the fourth quarter, Evanston (5-5, 1-2) rallied with clutch shooting at the free throw line, tough defense and strong rebounding.

Led by junior guard Dante Henley, who scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the fourth, the Wildkits clawed away at the Niles West lead, finally taking the lead 51-50 on Henley’s runner with 57 seconds remaining.

The Wolves responded, scoring their only field goal of the game’s final three minutes on a David McCoy (12 points) layin with just 35 tics left. Niles West then thought they’d gotten the defensive stop they needed, forcing a missed open three by Evanston’s Jackson Mihevc. However they didn’t see the 6-foot-3 Winslow, who crashed the glass, tipped a pair of offensive rebounds to himself, and sank a bucket with just five seconds on the clock.

Winslow finished with seven points and nine rebounds.

Niles West (6-3, 0-3) had one final chance, but Henley stole the inbounds pass and sank two free throws to end it.

“Pete was subbed in for because of a mental breakdown on defense, and instead of pouting or giving up, he made a play down the stretch that ended up being the winning basket,” Ellis said. “Give him all the credit in the world.”

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