The idea behind switching Christmas tournaments to the toughest girls holiday event available at Montini Catholic came about because Evanston head coach Elliot Whitefield wants to bring out the best in his players this season.
So far, so good.
The Wildkit girls destroyed once-beaten Geneva 58-37 with a complete effort at both ends of the floor Saturday, avoiding any potential post-Christmas Day blahs in the opening round of the Montini tourney.
Whitefield’s squad improved to 11-2 on the season and will meet Chicago Public League power Whitney Young, a 65-43 winner over St. Joseph, in the quarterfinals Monday at 8:15 p.m.
Evanston limited the losers to 21 percent (7-of-33) shooting over the last three quarters. Savannah Norfleet (20 points), Leighah-Amori Wool (14 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) and Allysah Boothe (10 points) all reached double figures for the winners.
Geneva (8-2) trailed just 23-20 at halftime as 6-foot-2 junior Grace Loberg stashed in 11 points, most of them on offensive rebounds. But the Vikings were almost shut out in the decisive third quarter, going almost seven full minutes without a field goal.
“That third quarter was a very good quarter for us,” Whitefield said. “We talked at halftime about challenging their shooters more, without giving up penetration and without giving them second shots. They can play with most teams when they make up their minds to play defense like that.
“Defense is something that has to be a constant for us. I want us to be more aggressive — and play like a boys team does — because if they sell out on defense, they’re still athletic enough to recover and we can give a lot of teams trouble. This is an important win for us because our practices have been so lackluster. They know how frustrated I’ve been. I just don’t want them to have any regrets at the end of the season. We can be a very dangerous team down the road if we continue to work and improve.
“And now we get a chance to play against the best.”
Evanston scored 15 unanswered points in the third period, including six by Wool and a pair of fast-break baskets by freshman SyAnn Holmes. Holmes also picked up an assist on another transition basket as ETHS outscored the Vikings 17-4 in the quarter.
Holmes, who netted a career-high 7 points in the second half, scored underneath as part of another run in the fourth quarter that allowed Evanston to double the score on the Vikings at 54-27.
Loberg and guard Margaret Whitley tied for team scoring honors with 14 points for the losers.
Source: ETHS Sports Information