The opening act of the 8th annual Bob Bost Basketball Classic didn’t just showcase two of the top contending girls basketball teams in the Central Suburban League South division Friday night at Beardsley Gymnasium.
It also served as an audition of sorts for Evanston junior guard Rashele Olantunbosun, otherwise known as “Z” by her teammates.
Head coach Brittanny Johnson’s search for another defensive stopper on the court paid off as the Wildkit girls throttled New Trier 59-33 for their seventh straight victory.
Olantunbosun, already known in the program for her offensive prowess, scored a career-high 14 points and held New Trier point guard Ava Zaslavsky scoreless. The diminuitive and talented Trevian guard, who notched 10 points in last year’s one-point win over ETHS, only got off 2 field goal attempts in the one-sided contest that honors the late longtime basketball and baseball assistant coach, Bob Bost.
Noting that senior guard Kayla Henning (game-high 15 points) has already logged major minutes for the undefeated Wildkits this season, Johnson decided to try Olantunbosun in that defensive role on Friday. And all she did was chop off the head off the Trevian attack and show that she could turn out to be a prime-time defender.
New Trier forward Aiden Casey poured in a game-high 22 points, but the rest of New Trier’s players combined for just 5 field goals as the Trevians fell to 6-4 on the year and 3-1 in league play. The losers only shot 36 percent (13-of-36) from the field.
Lola Lesmond fired in 11 points and Jayla Turchin and Ambrea Gentle each contributed 7 points for the winners, now 7-0 and 4-0, respectively.
“Any time you can handle your rival like that, that’s a good thing,” said Johnson after the Wildkits cut into New Trier’s long dominance of the head-to-head matchups between the two schools. New Trier still leads the all-time series with 62 victories to 37 for the Wildkits, who have won 6-of-7 encounters under Johnson’s leadership.
“Defensively, we didn’t do a good job — except for Z — and luckily New Trier missed a lot of layups. We wanted to put a lot of pressure on their point guard tonight and I decided to try Z on her because Kayla (Henning) already does so much for us at both ends of the court. Z did a good job on her (Zaslavsky), without fouling, and she really helped get us going defensively. She can be a good defender if she just focuses on it a little more.
“For Z to attack the basket and make shots like she did (including a pair of 3-point baskets) will be a great confidence booster for her. I thought our 3-pointers made a huge difference for us tonight. This is probably one of the better shooting teams I’ve had, and we have a saying that you have to be a shot-taker, then a shot-maker. They’re starting to buy into that.”
Evanston clung to a 19-15 advantage midway through the second quarter, then caught fire on offense and reeled off 12 unanswered points to break the contest wide open. Henning and Olantunbosun combined for all 12 of those points as the ETHS transition game kicked into high gear.
The winners knocked down 5-of-3 3-point attempts in the first half and added a pair of treys by Henning and Lesmond in the final period with the lead already stretched to 20 points. Henning added 7 rebounds for ETHS.