Evanston’s girls shook off early foul trouble with torrid shooting from 3-point range Thursday and cruised in the second half to a 71-44 victory over Naperville Central in the first round of the 31st annual Dundee-Crown Charger Classic Holiday Tournament.
The Wildkits, seeded No. 3 in the 16-team field, advanced to a second round matchup on Friday against Rockton Hononegah at 3:30 p.m.
Evanston converted 10-of-21 field goal attempts from 3-point range, including four in a row after leading just 34-27 at halftime. Coach Elliot Whitefield’s squad improved to 11-2 on the season behind double figure efforts from Seara Clayborn (17 points), Sierra Clayborn (16), Dashae Shumate (13) and Mae DeVuono (career-high 10). Freshman Krystal Forrester contributed 6 points and a team-high 12 rebounds despite missing part of the second half with foul trouble.
Both Seara Clayborn and freshman Leighah Wool were saddled with three personal fouls early in the contest, but the Kits picked up the slack from long distance.
“I know they’re good shooters, so I don’t really look at that 3-point shooting percentage,” said Whitefield, whose team didn’t attempt any treys in the fourth quarter. “Dashae’s shot has really improved after a summer of hard work on it. She’s not a great 3-point shooter, but teams have to honor that when she’s out there.
“It was a good finish for us. We played better in the second half even though we still missed a ton of easy shots.”
A pair of treys by Seara Clayborn and one each for sister Sierra and Wool stretched Evanston’s lead to 46-29 with 4 minutes, 14 seconds left in the third period. ETHS led 50-38 after three quarters and didn’t allow a basket in the final six minutes of the contest.
DeVuono provided off the bench support with 3-of-4 shooting from the field, plus 3 rebounds and a blocked shot.
“I thought Mae gave us a huge lift today,” Whitefield praised. “She gave us some steadiness when we needed it most in the first half. Mae and girls like Maureen (Kerr) and Adrianna and Erika (Carter) will have to give us some good minutes for us to compete against the better teams here.”