Jayla Turchin knows the best way to win friends and influence teammates when you’re part of a new basketball program isn’t necessarily to come out shooting every time you touch the ball.
But it was the transfer’s instant offense that delivered Evanston’s second victory of the season Saturday at the Schaumburg Thanksgiving Tournament.
Turchin, a sophomore transfer from Niles West, fired in 3 straight 3-point baskets in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 13 points off the bench as the Wildkits knocked off previously unbeaten Stevenson 45-34.
Evanston improved to 2-1 on the season as Kayla Henning also netted 13 points and Nadia Thorman-McKey and TaMia Banks each accounted for 7 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. Klaire Steffens paced Stevenson (2-1) with 15 points.
Turchin wasn’t concerned about the impression she’s making on her new ETHS teammates. After all, she played travel ball with a couple of the Wildkits before spending her first varsity season at Niles West last year.
Saturday, she connected on 5-of-8 field goal attempts and also grabbed 4 rebounds only playing a few minutes in Evanston’s first two tourney games.
“I have a lot of confidence in my shot, and if I’m open, I’m gonna take it,” Turchin said. “I knew most of these girls from travel ball and I thought it would be good to come here and play. I’m glad to be a Wildkit --- it’s been a lot of fun so far.
“I thought the move here would be better for me and better for my basketball career. Coach (Brittanny) Johnson’s coaching style really helps push me to the limit as a player, and I like that.”
“We’re going to see a lot of zone defenses this year, and Jayla will be a key for us against zones,” Johnson predicted. “That’s probably what she does best --- score. Our style is a little different here from Niles West and little by little, she’s starting to get it. We try to run things here more like a college program and it’s a tough program to transition into. She has a lot to get used to.
“Jayla has all of the offensive tools you need as a player and she’s one of the better offensive weapons on our team. We’re trying to teach her that the game is played at both ends of the floor.”
Turchin entered the contest Saturday midway through the second quarter, with the teams deadlocked at 14-14. She fired in a 3-point basket from the corner to give the Kits the lead for good, then added a pair of treys to build a 23-19 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter it was Henning’s turn to provide instant offense. The Patriots, even though their deliberate style of play netted them just 15 points in the entire second half, were within striking distance at 26-23 following a drive and a score by Krissy Hill with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in the period.
But Turchin responded with a 15-foot jumper, and then the Kits stuck the dagger in. Thorman-McKey put back a miss by Henning with 10 seconds later, the Pats turned the ball over against pressure on the inbound play, and Henning swished a 3-point shot that established a 33-23 lead entering the final period.
Stevenson could get no closer than a 7-point deficit the rest of the way. The Wildkits will resume play in the round-robin tourney next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. versus host Schaumburg.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.