After falling to Maine South in last year’s Class 4A Regionals, the Evanston Township High School girls’ basketball team looks to avenge that loss with a strong 2012 season. So far they they have done so, winning four of the first seven games.
In the season opener on Nov. 17, the Wildkits were defeated by Zion-Benton, 40-29, and two days later, they fell once again to Central Suburban League South Conference foe Niles West, 56-36, putting them in an early hole at 0-2. But the Kits have dug themselves out of that hole, winning four in a row. On Nov. 21, they beat Lake Forest, 40-30, and on Nov. 23, Deerfield, 56-37. A 55-29 win followed in Waukegan on Nov. 26. From there, they beat Maine East, 52-22, on Nov. 29 for their fourth straight victory. At press time, their record was a solid 4-2.
So far this season, the Kits have been led by senior Sinclair Cunningham, who averaged 23 points, seven rebounds, and five steals per game during the winning streak. Junior Alecia Cooley is averaging 10 points and 11 rebounds per game. Sophomore Sierra Clayborn leads the team in 3-pointers made with 6 (through five games) while averaging 9 points per game. Senior Erin Boothe has also contributed 6 points a game, while senior Nikki Gill and junior Gaby Nottage’s defensive pressure has led to numerous turnovers and easy points for the Kits.
In the Maine East game, Cunningham scored 19 points and Nottage added 8 to lead the Kits. “We came out a bit slow and lacking intensity [in the first quarter], but in the second, defensively we got things going by increasing our intensity and were able to create turnovers,” said head coach Elliot Whitefield. “A lot of our points came off steals and defensive pressure.”
On Dec. 2, the Kits took on Glenbrook South and lost, 42-27, in the home opener in Beardsley Gym in Evanston. With the loss, the Kits record stood at 4-3 overall and 0-1 in CSL South play.
Even though the Kits are winning games, Whitefield feels they have not yet developed a killer instinct as a team. “Overall, we’re trying to change our attitude in how we play the game. We’re competing, but we’re not looking to beat teams [yet],” said Whitefield. “They’re still looking over their shoulders when they make mistakes. I want them to be relentless when they play.”
Next up, the Kits were set to take on Maine South Dec. 6, the day this paper went to press, to be followed by a rematch with Waukegan on Dec 9. From there, they take on Loyola the next night, with a Dec. 13 matchup with Glenbrook North in Beardsley Gym.
Regarding Maine South, Whitefield said, “It’s a big one. Right now they’re the man, and I’ve told the girls that if you want to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. They play great basketball and have a great coach.”
As for Waukegan, Whitefield said, “We played them in the Deerfield Tournament and we played well. They are a little down right now (with a few players not dressing), but I don’t want to underestimate anybody. With Waukegan, you’ve got to be ready to play.”
At 4-3 overall, Whitefield says he is pleased with how things are going so far and with the direction the team is headed. “I like the way the girls are coming together. When it’s all said and done, we will be right there battling for the conference title.”