Even basketball players as unselfish as Kayla Henning can’t avoid the spotlight entirely.
The Evanston senior point guard became only the second female player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in her career Friday night, adding a dash of drama to an otherwise easy 74-31 victory over Glenbrook North for the Wildkit girls.
Henning’s layup midway through the fourth quarter came after a steal by teammate Jayiona Cobbs, who had a clear path for a layup herself but deferred to her senior leader. The score pushed Henning’s career total to 1,001 points as her teammates rushed the court to celebrate.
Henning scored a game-high 15 points and Jayla Turchin added 12 as the Wildkit girls improved to 16-2 overall and 7-0 in Central Suburban League South division play.
“It was an awesome performance by the entire team,” said ETHS head coach Brittanny Johnson. “I haven’t said anything to Kayla this year about it and she had no idea she was that close to 1,000 points. I just wanted her to play loose this year and not worry about it. But I really wanted her to get it at home, and I did tell the other girls before the game that she was only 14 points away from 1,000.
“She got to 10 points and then I think she had 4 straight assists, so I didn’t think it was going to happen tonight. That’s just the kind of kid Kayla is. She’s solely focused on the success of the team and of her teammates. She also has over 200 assists in her career and she’s sacrificed her individual success for this team.
“Everyone on the team wanted that achievement for her tonight.”
Henning played hurt all last year, following knee surgery, and currently leads the Wildkits with 11.7 points per game. But she’s never really been the No. 1 option on offense in her career, and her pass first, shoot second mentality has left an impression on Johnson ever since her freshman season.
“We have a special bond since we came into the program together, and I really appreciate the way she’s handled herself,” Johnson said. “She;s a leader and she’s truly a student of the game. In a lot of ways, Kayla is the face of our program. She does stuff the right way and she always gives it all she has.
“I knew when I came in as coach she was a kid I could build the program around. I remember the first time I saw her play in the summer and I didn’t believe she was only a freshman. I wanted to find a player who could be the standard for this program, and I don’t know of anybody who could have handled it better than she has.
“She really does a good job of leading by example. Now, I want someone to offer her a college scholarship. A lot of college coaches don’t seem to value the way she facilitates things, the way she controls the tempo of the game. She’s so important to our offense and to our defense.
“She’s done a good job of defending against the Division I kids we’ve played against. What I’d tell the college coaches is this, that this kid can help you — come and get her!”