The architects of one of the best two-year stretches in Evanston girls basketball history — players like Alecia Cooley, Erin Boothe and the Clayborn twins, Seara and Sierra — made the trip to Glenview to watch the current crop of Wildkits in action against Glenbrook South Friday night.
They built that success on the team defense they played together, so there was probably a collective cringe from that group when they watched unbeaten GBS piled up 32 points in the first half.
The Wildkits staged a second-half rally after showing they’re still a work in progress on defense, eventually falling to the Titans by a 56-45 margin. It marked the third straight Central Suburban League South division defeat for coach Elliot Whitefield’s squad, now 4-5 overall.
Sophomore Leighah-Amori Wool stashed in a season-high 23 points and also added 8 rebounds and 5 steals for ETHS. But a young squad that usually has at least four sophomores on the floor at the same time still isn’t on the same page at the defensive end, as evidenced by the number of back-door and easy baskets scored by the Titans (8-0).
GBS missed at least six wide open layups in the first quarter alone or Evanston’s halftime deficit would have been greater than what it was at 32-21.
“I can’t even remember if we’ve ever had two games in a row where we’ve given up so many points,” said Whitefield, whose team lost to another unbeaten, New Trier, 62-43 earlier in the week. “We gave up more back-door baskets in one game tonight than we did in an entire season with the group of players that came back to watch us tonight.
“I’ll just keep saying it, that hopefully we’ll get better. You can’t spot a good team 13 points like that and expect to come back. We talked about containing No. 15 (South’s Carrie Weinman, who led the Titans with 20 points) and we did a horrible job of that. And I can’t tell you how many times they beat our sideline traps. These kids have to start taking some ownership, because that’s just not being mentally into the game.
“Leighah played great and in the second half we trapped a little more and we did it in good spots. When they all rotated together, that’s when we got some steals and got back in the game.”
Wool, who has been brilliant in Evanston’s two biggest games to date, connected on 7-of-17 shots from the floor, including four 3-point buckets. She tossed in a 30-footer at the buzzer to end the third quarter, pulling the visitors to within 42-35.
South, which finished with 20 turnovers, saw the Kits creep to within four points at 44-40 (on two Wool free throws) and at 46-42 (on Wool’s putback of a miss by Hanan Richmond) with three minutes remaining. But the Titans countered with a 3-pointer from the corner by post player Caitlin Morrison and converted five more free throws down the stretch to keep Evanston at bay.
GBS outscored the visitors 19-6 at the free throw line. Savannah Norfleet also reached double figures for Evanston with 10 points.