Last season, the Evanston Township High School girls basketball team captured a Regional championship but came up short against Maine West in the IHSA Class 4A Niles West Sectional final. This season, the Wildkits have aspirations of advancing to that point once again or farther come playoff time.
“I think the team pretty much has the same expectations and I do not think they wanted to change those. Everyone knows that we lost a senior class of five that played a lot of minutes and a lot of the girls on the team now are probably unknown to some, but they still competed with everyone we had last year and I think they are ready to step into [larger roles],”explained second-year head coach Brittanny Johnson. “But we want to defend our [Central Suburban League South] Conference title, and we want to be able to win a Sectional this year. So I think our expectations and our goals align with what we had last year.”
In order to achieve that, the Kits will need to play solid defensively while playing an up-tempo style of offense, according to Coach Johnson. “We still have to be a defensive-minded team. I think this year we are way more athletic than we were last year, and we have to utilize that to the best of our abilities.” The Coach continued, “We are going to be an up-tempo team. We want to score a lot of points. I think if we are able to really follow the principles of our season [which are] rebound the basketball and push the ball up the court, we can still be successful. We are a team of really athletic guards and forwards, and we want to utilize our presses, and our man-to-man full-court press to get us easy baskets.”
Although the Kits lost five seniors from last season’s team due to graduation, this season’s roster features four seniors including TaMia Banks, Nadia Thorman-Mckey, Amaiya Johnson, and Madailein Carey, along with a number of other returning players, which Coach Johnson expects to play big roles. “Kayla Henning, [is a] sophomore point guard and is our leading returning scorer. She averaged about eight points a game and got really good minutes last year, so we are expecting some really big things from her.” The Coach continued, “TaMia is our only returning starter. She really made a name for herself last season as a defensive stopper, [and] she has done some great work offensively and I think that she will be ready to have a big season. Then, SyAnn Holmes is a junior forward who has played varsity since she was a freshman and she has always been in kind of a reserve role. But I think those three are really excited about being the players that people always thought they could have been and they are really looking to live up to their potential that we always felt like they had.”
Asked which opponents she is looking forward to facing, Coach Johnson said, “I am really looking forward to [the Montini Holiday Tournament from Dec. 27- Dec. 30]. We went 2-2 there last year and when you go into a tournament where almost every team is ranked, it was a great gauge to see where we are. But that is always a good [tournament] and there will be better teams in the state at that [tournament] and it will be a great chance to see where we are.” The Coach continued, “Then, obviously, [the Schaumburg Holiday Tournament from Nov. 14-24] to open up the season. Every team [in that tournament] is well-coached and very good. But in your first tournament of the year, you want to live up to your expectations for the season. Obviously, we are [also] looking forward to all of our Conference games [which begin with a matchup against archrival New Trier on Dec. 1 at Beardsley Gym in Evanston]. I think our Conference is really good from top to bottom, so it will be really interesting just to see [how it plays out]. I think the Conference is really young as almost every team has really young players. So it will be interesting to see what team is going to be the team that steps forward to be the team to beat.” The Coach added, “The last thing is our game at [the 2nd annual Showcase At The Park at Kenwood Academy on Jan. 20]. Kenwood is a really, really good city team and we are looking forward to going there for their shootout.”
On Nov. 14, the Kits opened their season against Wheaton Warrenville South as part of the Schaumburg tournament, and the Kits lost to the Tigers by a wide margin, 41-28. The Wildkits play tonight against St. Charles East.