Evanston’s girls basketball team has grown up a lot since losing to Stevenson 44-32 in the season opener.
Now the Wildkits will get a chance to measure just how much they’ve grown since then.
Evanston earned another shot at the unbeaten Patriots by destroying Fenwick 61-42 Friday in the first round of the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic Christmas tournament.
The lopsided win against a program that was won the holiday tournament a record 9 times in the past marked one of Evanston’s best first-round performances in the 32-year history of the tourney, led by sophomore Leighah-Amori Wool’s 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in just three quarters of action.
Evanston (8-5) will face Stevenson (13-0) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the second round, and ETHS head coach Elliot Whitefield can’t wait after the Wildkits committed only 3 turnovers in the first half, shot 40 percent from the field and held Stevenson without a field goal for seven minutes of the second half after breaking on top 36-20 at the halftime intermission.
“This game was their best performance of the year, as far as executing what we had worked on in practice this week,” Whitefield pointed out. “They did a great job of recognizing our advantage inside and with our post quickness.
“We told them coming into the game that Fenwick takes a lot of chances on defense, and that we should get some easy opportunities to score if we moved the ball side to side. The kids do a good job of penetrating the gaps against zones and looking for skip passes. They really played well together today, and winning a blowout against a team like Fenwick was really the furthest thing from my mind. I just hoped we’d play competitive until the fourth quarter, and then we’d see what happened.
“The girls are all very excited to have another opportunity to play Stevenson (a 59-48 winner over Barrington). We battled them the last time and we were up four going into the fourth quarter of that game. And I think we’re a better team now.”
Evanston connected on 13-of-30 field goal attempts in the first half thanks to better ball movement that led to open looks for Wool, among others. She tossed in four straight baskets — after missing her first shot — including a pair of 3-point bombs and netted 13 points in the first half. She finished 5-of-7 from the floor and the Kits as a team were 22-of-55 even after Whitefield cleared his bench in the fourth quarter.
Leah Robinson came off the bench to add 11 points and 6 rebounds, Krystal Forrester contributed 9 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, and Cookie Boothe and Savannah Norfleet registered 7 points apiece for the winners.
Jess Moriarity led Fenwick with 8 points.
“I thought Leah was outstanding, Krystal played an excellent game and so did Leighah,” Whitefield said. “They all did a great job of playing together, and we really got a lot from Cookie tonight, too. She’s fearless with the way she attacks the basket and she does a great job of penetrating. She can shoot it from the perimeter, ye t she’s quick enough to get by her man and get to the rim and finish, too.”
After piling up 36 points in a productive first half, the Wildkits outscored the Friars 13-5 in the third stanza, and the losers scored four of those points in the final minute of the stanza to keep the deficit at 49-25.
Source: ETHS Sports Information