March 3, 2021

Evidente Enjoys Memorable Senior Day, Helping PHS Boys’ Hoops Roll Past Ewing

MAKING HIS POINT: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Tim Evidente, left, goes in for a lay-up against Ewing last Friday. Senior point guard Evidente tallied 11 points to help PHS pull away to a 56-32 win over the Blue Devils. The Tigers, who dropped to 2-6 with an 82-47 loss at Nottingham last Saturday, are scheduled to play at Princeton Day School on March 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There may have only been a handful of people in the gym last Friday as the Princeton High boys’ basketball team held its annual Senior Day celebration, but it was still an emotional moment for Tim Evidente.

“I never thought I would be here, time actually flew by; it is crazy,” said Evidente.

“Even though there was no crowd, it was just amazing for the team to be here with everyone.”

Having suffered a leg injury in the season opener that sidelined him for several games, Evidente was particularly appreciative to be on the court last Friday.

“When I initially rolled my ankle, I thought I was not going to play for the rest of the season because it was pretty bad,” recalled Evidente, who played with a brace on his left ankle.

“I went to physical therapy. I am just trying to play as much as possible because it is my senior year.”

Evidente was at full speed in the third quarter against Ewing, scoring seven points and making some steals as PHS outscored the Blue Devils 16-1 and never looked back on the way to a 56-32 win.

“I think it was just our defense; we brought the intensity to them,” said Evidente in assessing the third quarter surge.

“They didn’t know how to respond to it. Overall as a team, we did really well.”

Playing well with fellow senior Ethan Guy, Evidente found him down low as Guy also scored seven points in the run. 

“I have been playing with Ethan for a very long time, since like childhood days way back,” said Evidente.

“We know each other’s go-tos. It is just amazing to play with him on our Senior Day.”

In his role as the team’s point guard, Evidente has learned his other teammates’ go-to moves.

“Based off last year, it is just being the floor general,” said Evidente, who tallied 11 points in the win.

“It is knowing how to make people succeed and understanding how to operate on the floor, controlling the tempo. It is making sure that everyone gets involved and that everyone has their attempts.”

As a battle-tested senior, Evidente has enjoyed mentoring the squad’s younger players.

“I love playing with these kids,” said Evidente. “This is my first year playing with some of the younger guys and I already feel a strong connection with them. I am happy that they are in the program.”

Evidente has developed a strong connection to his fellow seniors on the squad — Charles Hamit, Wayne Bethea, Zane Scott, and Guy.

“As a senior group, we just really try to make everyone else happy, get everyone involved and make sure that is not an uncomfortable place,” said Evidente, noting that the absence of classmate Hamit due to injury has been a down note for the Tigers.

“We just try to make everyone fit in as well and get them into the program. I give huge props to these younger guys, I am barely getting through it. They keep smiling every day in practice, they are so happy to be here. It makes me happy to know that their program is in their hands.”

PHS head coach Pat Noone tipped his hat to his Class of 2021 for their impact over the last four years and particularly this winter as the players have dealt with COVID and weather issues, among other things.

“First of all, this is a special group to begin with, and then with everything they have been through,” said Noone.

“I never thought I would say this but this is probably the most proud of a group that I have ever coached. I have never heard them complain. They just came every day. I have never seen anything like it, no matter what hurdle was in front of them, whether it is snow days, whether you are not playing today. It was something special, just for the resiliency that they have. People worry about different generations but a group like this, how they have handled it is just unbelievable.”

The combination of senior standouts Evidente and Guy helped spark PHS to its third quarter run.

“In that stretch, it was on the defensive end; Timmy made some steals to get things going,” said Noone, noting that Evidente had a slew of assists in the win.

“He and Ethan both played off of each other. For the first time since his injury, Timmy looked like Timmy, so that was a big difference.”

The Tigers did well at both ends against Ewing, getting contributions throughout the lineup.

“Everybody did well,” said Noone, who got 16 points from Guy in the win with Jaxon Petrone adding seven, Troy Curren scoring eight, and Jaiden Johnson chipping in six.

“Wayne is a senior, he gets to go out that way. That was cool, Jaxon has been playing well. Jaiden has been awesome. Connor [McDowell] and Troy did well. Everybody has hung in there.”

Despite the late start to the season and the limited number of games, Noone believes his players are progressing.

“They are growing, I think we have gotten better each week,” said Noone, whose team dropped to 2-6 with an 82-47 loss at Nottingham last Saturday is slated to play at Princeton Day School on March 5.

“Everybody got better. We are going in the right direction, so that is cool.”

As PHS enters the final week of the 2021 campaign, Noone is hoping to spend as much time as possible with his players.

“With a year like this, we just worry about tomorrow,” said Noone.

“I hope we get to Saturday and everybody is healthy and we get to Sunday and everybody is healthy. We hope that we get four more practices and some games and that we can be together for at least another week. It is day-by-day and just hope that everyone is safe and healthy. That is the big thing.”

For Evidente, making each day count is the big focus. “We are just doing the best that we can at this point,” said Evidente, who is looking to play for a Division III college program next year.

“During these times, it is hard to get as many games in. We are just trying to make the best of it and come back the next day and do even better.”