After surrendering 17 points in the first quarter of Thursday’s Class 4A regional tournament semifinal game at Resurrection, Evanston’s girls turned up the defensive intensity.
After that, Glenbrook North didn’t have a chance.
The Wildkits forced 32 turnovers and breezed to a 64-38 victory over the Spartans in a postseason matchup of Central Suburban League teams.
Evanston advanced to the championship game on Friday night with a 20-7 record. The Kits will take on host Resurrection, which pulled away from Lincoln Park in the fourth quarter for a 48-34 triumph.
Winner of the Resurrection Regional will meet Niles West Regional champion Loyola Academy in a sectional semifinal game Monday at Maine East.
Evanston only allowed five field goals in the last three quarters after the Spartans (3-24 record) opened with an offensive flourish, sinking 6-of-8 shots from the field in the first quarter. Four of those baskets came from 3-point range.
“Tonight was a good first step for us,” said ETHS coach Elliot Whitefield. “But no matter who we play, we need to do a better job of recognizing what the other team wants to do on offense, and who they’re trying to get the ball to. We have to do a better job of closing off the middle so they can’t drive. We need to do a better job getting stops.
“We’re pressing more in the second half of the season because we’ve had a hard time scoring points. We’re trying to create some offense with that pressure in case it’s a night where we’re not hitting shots.”
GBN’s Ashley Cohn led all scorers with 20 points, although she mustered just one basket in the second half and did most of her damage (7-of-12) at the free throw line in the last two quarters. Evanston countered with a balanced attack led by Seara Clayborn (16 points, 5 steals), Dashae Shumate (16 points, 6 rebounds) and freshman Krystal Forrester (13 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals).
The winners tossed in seven 3-point baskets in the first half and led 40-22 at the intermission. For the game, Evanston shot 28-of-69 from the field, or 40 percent.
The Wildkits scored 11 unanswered points to close out the first half and held GBN scoreless for the last five minutes of that half to break the contest open. Also contributing for ETHS were two starters who were question marks due to injuries, Sierra Clayborn (foot) and Leighah Amori-Wool (ankle). Clayborn netted 7 points and Amori-Wool collected 6.
The contest also marked the varsity debuts of freshman Hanan Richmond and sophomore Dani Strejc, who were promoted after helping Evanston’s sophomore team fashion a sterling 18-3 overall record. Neither player scored Thursday night, although Strejc was credited with three rebounds.