None of the members of the Evanston girls basketball team were alive when Joe Namath made his famous guarantee of a Super Bowl victory.
But Jayla Turchin’s promise turned out to be just as significant Friday night, Feb. 21, for the Wildkits.
Turchin delivered 19 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists as Evanston crushed Glenbrook North 62-25 in the championship game of the Class 4A Glenbrook North Regional tournament.
Turchin’s near triple double sent the No. 2 seed Wildkits into the Maine West Sectional semifinals set for Monday. No. 1 Maine West tests No. 4 Loyola Academy at 6 p.m., and Evanston faces No. 4 Maine South in the other semi at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Evanston, now 22-6 overall, beat Glenbrook North for the third time with a dominant performance and appears to have turned a corner after dropping 4 of its last 5 regular season games.
Friday night, the Wildkits pounced on North for a 19-2 lead after the first quarter and pushed the advantage to a whopping 38-8 by halftime. It marked the second straight postseason victory with a running clock —emblematic of a “slaughter rule” 30-point lead —for the Wildkits.
“I challenged Jayla today and had her guard the other team’s best player (North’s all-conference Brooke Blumenfeld, who totaled 2 points in the first half),” said Evanston head coach Brittany Johnson. “She played incredible defense on her. Jayla accepted the challenge and really played well.
“She promised me before the game that she’d get it done tonight. And when we have a locked in Jayla Turchin, we’re a much better team. She’s a special player.”
Senior teammate Kayla Henning, the second leading career scorer in program history, added 13 points. Sophomore Lola Lesmond chipped in 11 points after joining 3-Point Showdown qualifiers Janelle Smith of Schurz and Krystyna Ellew and Aryana Bermeo of Taft as qualifiers to advance in the competition held prior to the title game.
“I was nervous all day, but I’m proud of the kids because they were calm, loose and confident coming in,” said Johnson of her senior-laden squad. “It’s hard to win a regional in this area and I’m very excited about winning this one. Our intensity is really good and I love our pace of play right now. I think we were becoming too predictable, as a halfcourt team, and we didn’t push the tempo much over the last 4 or 5 games (of the regular season).
“It took a long time for us to find our identity as a team, but now we’ve found it.”