Buffalo Grove never did find its comfort zone Tuesday night at the Dundee-Crown Charger Classic Christmas tournament.
Evanston’s girls made sure of that.
Another solid defensive effort by the Wildkits smothered Buffalo Grove and the Kits captured 3rd place in the tournament for the second year in a row with a 49-37 triumph.
That third place finish matched the program’s best-ever showing and boosted the young ETHS squad to 10-6 entering the New Year. And this third place finish may have been even more significant than last year’s showing, because the teams Evanston faced in the final three games of the tourney owned a combined won-loss record of 38-2.
Evanston’s quickness disrupted the Bison attack, forcing 19 turnovers and limiting Buffalo Grove to just 2-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. ETHS head coach Elliot Whitefield’s familiarity with several of the Bison players from summer competition provided an unbeatable scouting report for the winners.
“I thought we did a very good job of executing tonight, of taking away every player’s strength,” Whitefield said. “We made their shooters put the ball on the floor and we made the girls who can handle it take the shots. We put them in situations they weren’t comfortable with.
“I think the competition this year in the tournament was more balanced — just about every team on our side of the bracket had a chance to get to the finals — so we did OK getting third. Certainly, we can play better. But our girls did a good job defensively and I’m proud of their effort. We were able to jump the passing lanes, and even when we didn’t get a turnover, we were able to disrupt their timing. We weren’t going to let their best shooters (Maddy Callahan and Maddie Welter) get open looks, I can tell you that.”
Leading 38-28 after three quarters, the Wildkits employed a spread attack in the final period and Buffalo Grove never got closer than 9 points. ETHS held the Bison scoreless for 4 minutes, 47 seconds to start the third stanza and pitched a shutout for the first 4:07 on the clock in the fourth quarter as well.
Savannah Norfleet’s 7-point surge in the second quarter provided the spark the winners needed on offense. She finished with a team-high 11 points and was backed up by Leighah-Amori Wool with 9 points and 7 rebounds, Krystal Forrester with 9 points, and Cookie Boothe and Hanan Richmond with 8 points apiece.
Callahan and Denise Stejskal each netted 9 points for the Bison, who fell behind 30-19 at halftime.
“I think it was important for our girls to show they could respond after a tough loss last night (to eventual tournament champion Prospect),” Whitefield pointed out. “We’ve done a good job of responding after losses all year.”