The Evanston girls basketball team hopes for yet another strong season this year. Head Coach Steve Wool is counting on seniors Collier Clegg, Krystal Pritchett, Nicole Brown and junior Erin Rowell to step up and carry the team.
The Wildkits started out the year on a high note, beating Northside College Prep 50-24 on Nov. 18. After that, they lost four straight. They fell to Whitney Young on Nov. 21, which was ranked number one in the state at the time. They then lost to Stevenson 54-48, to Hersey 67-57 and to Maine West 53-37 in the Maine West Thanksgiving Tournament.
Coach Wool says the key to ending this streak and getting back on track is rebounding. “We are extremely small, and we have to be as good a rebounding team as possible.” He added they have to rebound well to be able to create offensive opportunities, due to a lack of speed on the team.
The Kits ended their losing streak on Dec. 5 beating St. Ignatius 66-55. Clegg led the team in scoring, hitting seven 3-pointers, and scoring a total of 29 points. “It was the first game everyone played really well together and we played pretty solid defense,” said Clegg. On Dec. 6, the Kits beat Washington 58-23.
Coach Wool emphasizes taking one game at a time. “We have a very competitive schedule, and we play mostly ranked teams. So we cannot look too far ahead,” he said. “There are no ‘gimmies’ in the schedule.”
One team the Kits are looking forward to playing is archrival New Trier at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday, Dec. 12, as well as on Jan. 30. “I’m really looking forward to playing New Trier,” said Clegg. “First because we get the opportunity to play both games in Welsh-Ryan and second because I have a lot close friends on New Trier. It’s always nice to rub it in their face when we win. It’s always one of the best games of the season, and everyone puts their all into those games.”
Brown added, “I definitely want to beat New Trier with a burning passion because I am a senior, and it will be the last two times to play them. I do not want to live the rest of my life saying I lost to our biggest rival during the biggest game of the season.”
After New Trier, the Kits play at Waukegan on Dec. 16, at Niles West on Dec. 19 and then they play in the Dundee Crown Tournament beginning on Dec. 26.
One of the ranked teams the Kits will play is Marshall High School. “Marshall won the 3A state championship last year and it will be fun to play a team with downstate experience,” said Brown. The Kits will play Marshall on Jan. 19 as part of the MLK Dream Classic.
“Our goals for the rest of the year are to try to make it downstate, like any other team would try to do, but before that we want to be conference champs,” said Pritchett. Another goal is to win 20 or more games this year, she said, which would be about how the Kits have done in each of Coach Wool’s seven years coaching at Evanston.
“We have a really hard working group of young ladies, but we need to find our identity,” said Coach Wool. “Once we do, we will be a tough team.”