The Evanston Township High School girls basketball team began the 2018-19 season with three straight victories in the Schaumburg Thanksgiving Tournament as they beat Wheaton Warrenville South, St. Charles East and Downers Grove North to open tournament play.
The Wildkits looked to make it four in a row when they took on tournament host Schaumburg on Nov. 20, which they did, beating the Saxons 51-33. In that game, the Kits took control early as they scored the first six points and held the Saxons to just two points in the first quarter en route to taking a 15-2 lead heading into the second quarter.
From there, the Saxons fought back to 19-12 with 4:01 remaining in the quarter. But after that run, the Kits responded with a 6-0 run of their own to make it a 25-12 contest at the half.
In the third quarter, the Saxons outscored the Kits 8-5 to make it 30-20, but any thoughts of a comeback were erased with consecutive baskets from junior center Ambrea Gentle, junior guard Ariel Logan, junior guard Tyler Mayne and junior guard Kayla Henning to open the fourth quarter. That put the Kits back in control 38-20 with 6:20 remaining. Then after a Saxons basket, Tyler delivered the knockout punch with a three-pointer to make it 41-22 with 4:40 remaining. The Kits cruised to the 51-33 victory from there. With the victory, the Kits improved to 4-0 overall.
“We just had a really slow start and we picked it up in the second half,” said head coach Brittanny Johnson. “But I am just not happy with the way we played. I just think, as a team, we just did not play well. We had great individual performances but we just did not play well as a team.”
Tyler led the Kits with 16 points and Ambrea added 10 points while senior guard Delaney Brooks chipped in nine points, including three three-pointers in the first half. Regarding Tyler and Delaney’s performances, Coach Johnson said, “I felt Tyler was very even the entire game. I am very happy with the way she has been playing. Then Delaney is always stepping up and hitting big shots for us.”
Despite limiting the Saxons to just two points in the first quarter and eight in the third, Coach Johnson felt the Kits’ energy could have been stronger. “I thought our defense was fine at times,” said the Coach. “We obviously let them get a couple of open shots. Our biggest thing was our energy on defense. I do not know what happened. Our energy was bad, but we were lucky enough to rely on our talent to win that game.”
From there, the Kits took on Maine West on Nov. 23 in the last game of the Schaumburg Tournament and fell by a score of 58-34, which dropped their record to 4-1 overall. When asked what the team has to do to maintain this strong level of play to start the season, Coach Johnson said, “I think to keep the momentum, we know what to do, but for some reason we are getting in our own way right now. So I am just waiting to see some leadership step up and I think once that happens, we will be the team I thought we could be.”
On Nov. 27, the Kits scored 56 points in the first half against Vernon Hills and went on to win the game 73-40, improving their record to 5-1 overall. They take on New Trier tonight, Nov. 29.