Evanston’s girls basketball team couldn’t finish off the comeback they started in the second half of Tuesday’s season opener against Wheaton Warrenville South.
The inexperienced Wildkits only scored 2 points in the fourth quarter, went scoreless for the final 4 minutes, 20 seconds and fell to the Tigers by a 41-28 margin.
A rebound basket by sophomore center Ambrea Gentle pulled the Kits to within 29-28 with 4:20 remaining, but that turned out to be the last basket scored by the defending tournament champions. Evanston turned the ball over 8 times in the fourth period and only shot 1-of-10 from the field.
“Our lack of game experience (only 1 starter returning from last year) showed tonight,” said ETHS head coach Brittanny Johnson. “With the quality of the teams we play here, we knew coming in we were going to struggle with that. We’re going to take some lumps and try to learn from them.
“It’s a journey, and we’ve just got to get better every day. Wheaton Warrenville South is a quality team, but we have to do a much better job of mentally preparing for games. We weren’t focused tonight and when everything you do (as a varsity player) really matters, you’ve got to change your mentality and stay focused.”
Wheaton South opened the second half with 10 unanswered point and built a 26-18 advantage before the Wildkits finally got on the board on a layup by Kayla Henning. The Tigers, who got a game-high 20 points from senior forward Jayla Johnson, led 27-26 after three quarters.
Senior TaMia Banks paced Evanston with 6 points and 9 rebounds, and Gentle, Henning and Jayla Turchin each netted 5 points.
Evanston resumes action in the round-robin tournament on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. versus St. Charles East. The Saints handled host Schaumburg 56-38 in their tourney debut.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.