The Evanston Township High School girls’ basketball team hopes to bounce back from a, 12-6, losing season last year, the first in head coach Steve Wool’s tenure at ETHS.

The Wildkits opened their 2009-10 campaign on Nov. 17 against Oak Park River-Forest at Beardsley Gym in Evanston. The Kits trailed the entire first half, but outscored Oak Park, 11-3, in the third quarter and took their first lead with under five seconds left in that quarter. In the fourth quarter, the teams exchanged the lead five times, but Oak Park went ahead 41-39 with just over a minute left. In the final minute, Oak Park made seven of eight free throws to ice the victory, 48-42.

Senior Jackie Schultz scored 15 points to lead the Kits. The Kits committed 27 turnovers.

“It was a very hard fought game. Our girls took a step forward and played hard,” said Coach Wool. “Oak Park is a good team, but it was a good opening game. It provided a measuring stick of where we are at so far.”

Two days later, the Kits bounced back and beat Grant High School, 40-38, as part of the Deerfield Tournament. This is the first season the Kits have participated in this round-robin tournament, having played at Maine South the last few years.

On Nov. 21, the Kits lost to Lake Forest, 54-44. Lake Forest had 38 attempts at the charity stripe.

After the loss to Lake Forest, Coach Wool said the game was similar to game against Oak Park. There were “lots of turnovers and lots of free throws,” he said. “Our defense has to improve and I think it will.”

“That’s been the M. O. of what we have been going through right now. We have to tighten up in a lot of areas,” said Coach Wool regarding the team’s turnover and foul trouble.

The Kits rolled back to beat North Chicago High School 51-17 on Nov. 23. They are now 2-2.

With the season just underway, Coach Wool says the goals for the team are to continue to get better as the year goes on and to compete for conference. “We are a very young team, we need to do the little things, like rebounding and learning how to win,” he said. “The challenge falls on all 11 players. As we move through the season, hopefully we will continue to get better.

“A lot of the girls on the roster haven’t experienced varsity intensity. So [as a team] we’re experiencing growing pains. We have to get comfortable figuring out what it takes to compete at this level,” he added. “Hopefully we gain enough experience [early in the season] so we’re ready to go in Conference.”

For that to happen, Coach Wool is counting on senior captains, Schultz, Erin Rowell and Kelsey Coley to provide team leadership.

The Kits’ upcoming schedule includes a match-up on Nov. 25 against Zion-Benton and on Nov. 28 against Deerfield. Both these games are part of the Deerfield tournament. On Dec. 4, the Kits play Waukegan and on Dec. 8 at Maine South.

Of the teams on the schedule, Coach Wool said he is looking forward to playing in the Dundee Crown Invite (Dec. 26-30), in the City-Suburban Shootout (Jan 2), in the MLK Dream Classic (Jan 18) and against teams in their conference, particularly archrival New Trier twice (Dec. 11 and Jan. 29).

“Conference is going to be difficult; Dundee is going to be tough. There are some top teams in [the Dundee tournament]. The Dream Classic gives us the opportunity to play top competition,” said Coach Wool.

With each game, the Kits will continue to gain experience and Wool adds, “I think we’ll be [a] dangerous [team] in the next month or two.”