The Evanston Township High School girls basketball team has had its share of ups and downs this season. With the loss of senior Collier Clegg for two and a half weeks with an elbow injury and the team struggling, things were not looking too good for the remainder of the season. But when Clegg returned, so did the type of team head coach Steve Wool has grown accustomed to (averaging about 20 wins a season in his eight-year tenure as head coach), and the wins began to come more regularly. With a win over Regina on Jan. 24, 49-39, the Wildkits’ overall record stood at 9-13, and at 2-5 in Central Suburban South League play. Senior Krystal Prichett attributes their tougher defensive as one reason for their improved play. “Our defense has been picking up and we are playing more competitively,” she said. “Plus our energy has been good [which helps] us get wins.” Prichett said the goals for the remainder of the season are to win the remaining games and to get ready for Regionals. The defensive improvement did not occur over night, however. “During practice we do a lot of drills that target fundamental defense, and you can see everyone getting better as the season goes on,” said Clegg. “I think our team is on the right track and hopefully we will [keep improving] by the time playoffs roll around.” Those drills have certainly paid off, as evidenced by the Kits wins over Maine South, 67-28, on Jan. 23, and Highland Park, 45-28, on Jan. 13. They also kept up with nationally ranked (24th) Minneapolis South in the first half, trailing 41-32 at halftime. Minneapolis then outscored the Kits 24-6 in the second half, which ended in a 65-38 loss on Jan. 19 at Whitney Young High School in the Martin Luther King Dream Classic Shootout. In a game against conference rival New Trier at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena on Jan. 30, the Kits fell to the Trevians 51-44. The Kits, though, overcame an early deficit to lead at the half, and they led by 6 points late in the third quarter. New Trier fought back, however, and took the lead with four and a half minutes remaining in the game. The Kits came to within 2 points late in the game, but New Trier extended the lead to 48-40 with under a minute left. The Kits were outscored 19-11 in the fourth quarter. Clegg led all scorers with 20 points. With a 71-64 victory over Deerfield on Jan. 31, the Kits’ overall record stands at 10-14 and 2-6 in Conference. The Kits’ remaining schedule includes a match-up against Niles West on Friday. They play Glenbrook South on Feb. 13 and finish out the regular season against Lake Forest on Feb. 14. The first round of the playoffs begins during the week of Feb. 16; the Kits are the tenth seed in the Niles West Sectional. “[The improved play of late] tells everyone that [whatever] the situation, good or bad, we are a team that does not give up,” said Prichett. Coach Wool said, “We are 6-3 in the new year and have played a very difficult schedule, so our record really doesn’t show how good a team we are.” Photo, caption: After overcoming an early deficit, the Evanston girls led New Trier until the final four minutes. Coach Steve Wool said, “We were right in the game until the last two minutes, but we couldn’t close out. We played them much better this time around.”