The Evanston Township High School girls’ basketball team has had its share of ups and downs this season, but the Wildkits hope to play more consistently the rest of the season with Regionals right around the corner.
“We need to play with consistency, every play counts [in Regionals],” said head coach Steve Wool. “Hopefully we will be playing our best basketball when Regionals begin.”
On Jan. 14, the Kits lost to Central Suburban League South foe Glenbrook South, 42-33. Then on Martin Luther King Day, they beat Roosevelt (Gary, Ind.), 32-22, as part of the MLK Dream Classic at Whitney Young. Senior Nichelle Campbell scored 11 points to lead the Kits.
The next day, they were unable to carry the momentum gained against Roosevelt into their game against Loyola, falling to the Ramblers, 47-44.
On Jan 21, the Kits lost to Maine South, 52-39. “We did not approach the game well and I was disappointed,” said head Coach Wool.
“We did not really show up to play during the Maine South game,” said Campbell. “I felt that things could have gone better but as a team we were not in attack mode.”
But on Jan.28, the Kits were certainly in attack mode against injury plagued Waukegan, beating the host Bulldogs, 58-17. Junior Alecia Cooley led the Kits with 15 points.
“It was an unfortunate game. Their best players were down,” said Coach Wool. “Our girls were classy and we tried not to run up the score. It was just a tough game.”
“The Waukegan game went well,” said Campbell. “We came out a little sloppy but once we started playing at our level, the sky was the limit for us.”
With the win, the Kits snapped a four game losing streak against CSL South Conference opponents, improving their Conference record to, 3-5, and, 12-10, overall.
On Jan. 29, the Kits beat Oak Park River-Forest, 55-53, with a layup at the buzzer by senior Leiya English, giving the Kits their 13th win of the season. The Kits had trailed by as many as 13 points but fought back to get the win.
“They jumped on us early, but we battled back,” said Coach Wool. “Our kids played with heart and determination and that shows the character of our team.” He added, “It was an incredible game.”
English led the way with 25 points and Campbell grabbed 12 rebounds. “[English] played a great game,” added the Coach.
The remaining games on the Kits’ schedule include a game on Feb. 1 against Lincoln Park in Beardsley gym, followed by a Feb. 4 matchup against Conference foe Niles West. From there, they take on Regina on Feb. 8 and a rematch with archrival New Trier on Feb.12 to close out the regular season.
“I think I speak for my team when I say Niles West is the game to be at,” said Campbell. “We cannot wait to get back out there and show them how Evanston basketball is played,” she added, referring to a 57-43 loss in Niles on Dec. 17.
Coach Wool added, “New Trier is a big rivalry and Niles West, I think the girls will get up for the challenge. But we are not looking past anybody.”
After New Trier, the eighth-seeded Kits take on Northside College Prep on Feb. 15 in the Northside Regional as part of the Class 4A Maine East Sectional.
“We can not look past Northside. They are not to be taken lightly,” said Coach Wool. “They are a good team. But if we play our game, I think we can win.” He added, “It is going to be a hard fought game.”
Regarding their expectations heading into the postseason, Campbell said, “As a team we just expect each other to go out there and lay it all out on the line. Our goal is to go out there and play hard for all 32 (minutes).”
The coach added, “Hopefully LadyLuck will be on our side, but it should be a fun ride.”