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Right now the defense is ahead of the offense for the Evanston girls basketball team.
But the unbeaten Wildkits relied on that defense to open defense of their Central Suburban League South division championship with a 46-18 running-clock rout of Niles West Friday night in Skokie.
The one-sided road win boosted ETHS to a 3-0 start to the season. The two teams will play again Saturday at Beardsley Gymnasium.
Evanston forced 19 turnovers — that’s right, the losers had more turnovers than points scored — and limited the Wolves to just 3 field goals in the second half, when the 30-point slaughter rule kept the clock running. For the game, West shot just 8-of-41 (20 percent) from the field.
Rashele Olantunbosun (11 points) and freshman Kailey Starks (10) led the winners. Lola Lesmond, who averaged 20 points in Evanston’s first two wins, settled for 5 points and 11 rebounds but only attempted 5 field goals.
“I’m used to seeing teams I’ve coached score 60 to 70 points a game, and we’re just not scoring a lot so far,” said ETHS head coach Brittanny Johnson. “Right now it’s because of a lack of transition offense. We did a bad job of rebounding tonight, and that’s what turns into a lot of quick points in transition. Our guards are not looking to pass the ball ahead when they get it, either. We pulled out some old films to show them how the transition game should look, because that’s been the bread and butter of Evanston basketball.
“But for the first 3 games our defense has been strong, and our halfcourt defense has really been great.”
Starks, who only netted 4 points in the first 2 varsity games of her career, helped jump-start the transition game in the second half after the Kits already owned a double digit (23-10) halftime advantage. She tallied 8 straight points as part of a 19-3 run in the third period, and that was more than enough to secure the victory.
Amarii Mays and Ellie Oif contributed 7 points each for the Wildkits.