Evanston’s girls basketball team earned the No. 3 seed for the upcoming Class 4A Glenbrook South Sectional tournament on the strength of a solid 15 victories so far during the regular season.
But head coach Elliot Whitefield knows that an early exit in the “second season” is becoming more and more likely if the Wildkits can’t find their focus as a team.
The ETHS girls continued their roller coaster season with a frustrating 52-48 loss at Maine South Friday night despite a career high 24 points from sophomore Hanan Richmond. The Hawks converted 10-of-13 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to hand the visitors their fourth defeat in the last five games.
Evanston (15-10 overall, 3-6 Central Suburban League South division) winds up the regular season with road games against Montini Catholic and Waukegan before postseason play begins. The Kits are seeded behind New Trier and Glenbrook South in the sectional field.
“Too many of our players haven’t given everything they could to make this team as good as we could be,” Whitefield said. “We could beat almost any of the other teams in the sectional, or we could lose to any of the top 8 or 9. Whatever happens, it will be what we’ve earned.
“When things are going good, like in the first quarter tonight, we’re quick to pick each other up. But when things start to tighten up you see a lot of frustration and emotion. It’s on the girls to take more responsibility, starting with their effort in practice.”
The Wildkits rode Richmond’s hot hand and scored 20 points in the first six minutes, as Richmond shredded Maine South’s 2-3 zone defense with five 3-point baskets during that stretch. After that? The Kits mustered only 28 points in the final 26 minutes.
Richmond shot 8-of-11 from the field, but her only offensive support came from Leighah-Amori Wool with 12 points and 5 steals. The losers shot just 4-of-11 in the fourth quarter and missed 4 straight free throws late in the contest when a comeback was still possible.
“What happened on offense was that we started thinking, instead of just playing,” Whitefield said. “Hanan was just incredible — it was ridiculous to start off the game shooting like that — but no one was moving on offense after that. Sometimes we’re not patient enough, and sometimes we’re not ready to shoot or ready to make a move and score.”
Maine South, which lost to the Wildkits in the first regular season meeting, recovered from that early 20-5 deficit to take a 48-43 advantage on a pair of free throws by Julia Sirvinskas with 2 minutes and 7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Evanston couldn’t capitalize on consecutive South turnovers as both Krystal Forrester and Adriana Carter missed twice at the charity stripe. One minute later, Wool drew the Kits within 50-46 on a bonus attempt, but missed her second try.
Riley Eckhart paced Maine South (14-14) with 13 points.
Source: ETHS Sports Information