Last season, the Evanston Township High School girls basketball team advanced to the elite eight of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs. So far this season, it seems as though the Wildkits are set to get there again – or farther, as they have gotten off to an 8-1 start.

Undefeated in five games in the season-opening Deerfield Thanksgiving tournament, the Kits went on to beat Maine West 55-46 on Dec. 3 and Niles West 35-24 the next night, to improve to 7-0 overall and 1-0 in Central Suburban League South Conference play.

From there, the Kits took on archrival New Trier on Dec. 7 and fell 73-64. In that game, the Trevians established control of the game early on, holding the Kits to 7 points in the first quarter, and leading 20-7 heading to the second quarter. But the Kits fought back and got to within 4 – when senior guard Dashae Shumate hit a 3-pointer with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, making it a 68-64 game.

Unfortunately, that would be the last basket the Kits would score in that game. The Trevians held on for the victory, handing the Kits their first loss of the season. The Kits were led by senior guard/forward Seara Clayborn, who scored 22 points, while Shumate totaled 13 points, and senior guard Sierra Clayborn added 12 points.

“New Trier came out with intensity and a sense of urgency and we did not,” said Head Coach Elliot Whitefield regarding his team’s performance. “They have some talented players, and waiting to compete until the fourth quarter did not get it done, nor will it in future games against good teams.”

But, he said, though “Dashae got in early foul trouble which hurt us, she played a very good fourth.” He added, “Seara kept us from getting blown out by 20 points. She was very aggressive in the second half and New Trier was not able to match up with her quickness and strength.”

After falling to New Trier, the Kits took on CSL South foe Glenbrook South on Dec. 13 and bounced back, beating the Titans 44-35. In that game, Sierra Clayborn led the Kits scoring 14 points and five steals. Shumate totaled 13 points, four rebounds and two assists, and Seara Clayborn chipped in with 8 points and two assists in the victory. With this win, the Kits improved to 8-1 overall and 2-1 in CSL South Conference play.

Given the Kits’ strong start, Coach Whitefield knows there is a lot of work left to do in order for the team to maintain this level of play throughout the remainder of the season. “We have started off well by winning games against teams we should beat,” he said. “As the season goes on, our schedule gets much tougher, and we will need to play well to compete against some highly ranked teams.”

The coach added, “We need to stay healthy and compete in practice. The harder players are pushed in practice, the better prepared we will be for the games.”

Next up, the Kits take on Maine South on Friday night, followed by Loyola on Dec. 21. After that game, the Kits participate in the Charger Christmas Tournament at Dundee-Crown, Dec. 26-30.