Maureen Kerr hasn’t contributed to the fast start by the Evanston girls basketball team as much as she’d like to so far.
But now that she’s no longer pulled in more than direction — mentally if not physically — the two-sport standout showed Tuesday night that she can be an impact player off the bench for the Wildkit cagers.
A potential Division I soccer recruit by the time she graduates, Kerr contributed 5 points, 3 steals and an assist on the hardcourt Tuesday as the Wildkits wiped out Highland Park 58-29 in a Central Suburban League crossover game.
Kerr played extended minutes for the first time and Evanston turned in one of its most efficient offensive performances of the season while improving to 9-1 overall. ETHS converted 25-of-47 field goal attempts (53 percent) and only four of those baskets came from outside the paint against Highland Park’s man-to-man defense.
Ten different players scored for the Wildkits, led by Dashae Shumate (10 points, 4 rebounds), Sierra Clayborn (9 points), Leighah Wool (8 points, 8 rebounds, 1 blocked shot) and Krystal Forrester (7 points, 4 rebounds).
Highland Park (4-8) only scored 11 points in the second half.
Kerr admitted that a national soccer showcase/tournament a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina might have occupied most of her thoughts even though the basketball season was already in full swing. Like most multi-sport athletes at ETHS, she was coming off a summer where she divided her time as well as she could, even while acknowledging that her athletic future will likely be played out somewhere on a soccer pitch.
“I think it was about half and half (participation) this summer, because there was only one showcase for soccer. So I was able to go to a lot of summer league (basketball) games and work on my muscle memory there,” Kerr said. “I’ve always been someone who looks to pass first, so I really worked on my shooting. Now I’m trying to be more aggressive and more confident with the ball.
“I thought I did OK at the showcase in North Carolina. It was hard, because there was a lot of good competition and everyone was really trying to play their best with all the college coaches there. At the beginning of the basketball season I knew I’d have to miss at least one big game and it turned out to be the New Trier game. I really didn’t want to miss that one, but I ended up watching it with (New Trier rival and soccer teammate Jackie Welch) on Jackie’s Ipad while we were there.
“More than I was last year, now I feel like I can be more of a factor for the basketball team. I’m still leaning toward playing soccer — I think that’s my best sport — but I still love playing basketball.”
Basketball head coach Elliot Whitefield encourages his players to compete in more than one sport and knows that Kerr can definitely bolster the team’s bench as the season progresses.
“For us to reach the level we were at last year as a team, Maureen has to play an important role for us,” Whitefield said. “She does a lot of little things out there that some of our more skilled players just don’t do. She’s a natural athlete and a smart player. Not many girls who don’t play that much basketball would have been able to make that back door pass that she made tonight. Anyone who steps up and shows that they understand what we’re trying to do as a team, like Maureen and Adrianna Carter, is going to play more.”
Evanston led just 16-10 at the first quarter stop, and pulled away to a 32-18 halftime advantage as Kerr registered three steals, sank a free throw and fed Ashley Smith for a back door bucket. A 3-point basket by Sierra Clayborn just beat the halftime buzzer for the hosts.
Kerr played the entire third quarter in the backcourt and helped the Kits outscore the Giants 13-7. Forrester added a pair of steals and Shumate racked up consecutive buckets — one of them a 16-foot jump shot — to close out the period.
Evanston resumes action this weekend with road games at Maine South on Friday and Loyola Academy on Saturday.
Source: ETHS Sports Information