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One of the side effects of the pandemic for high school basketball is the fact that coaches can’t send scouts out for in-person evaluations of future opponents.
Schools in the Central Suburban League have agreed to swap videos — but ask any head coach and they’ll tell you it’s just not the same.
So the teams that survive and thrive this 2021 campaign are going to be the ones that can prevail while adjusting as they go.
So far, so good for Evanston’s girls. The Wildkit defense stymied Glenbrook North Friday night at Beardsley Gym, holding the Spartans without a field goal for the entire second quarter, as ETHS scored a 57-25 victory and improved to 6-1 on the season while remaining undefeated in CSL South division play.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. at GBN.
Senior Amarii Mays scored a career-high 13 points and classmate Rashele Olantunbosun also netted 13 for the winners, who were held to an 11-11 tie in the first quarter before dominating with their defense.
On the season, Evanston has allowed an average of just 31 points per game and no opponent has scored more than 50. While it’s not unusual for the defense to be ahead of the offense at any point in a given year, with so many new faces on the Kit roster this year it seemed more likely to happen later rather than sooner.
Evanston head coach Brittanny Johnson, however, pointed out that individual talent can dominate on both sides of the ball.
“When practice started I noticed our athleticism, and a lot of our girls are just naturally good defenders,” Johnson said. “They work hard at it and I think they have the possibility of being one of our better defensive teams, like our team my second year here (2017-18).
“I’ve learned that scouting is really important in this conference and it’s hard to be prepared against all these great coaches this year. Now we’re trying to make adjustments and learning on the fly. When you don’t give the girls the answers to the test, then they have to solve it themselves.”
Olantunbosun’s 3-point basket at the first quarter buzzer tied the contest at 11-all and it was downhill from there for GBN. The losers were 0-for-10 from the field in the second quarter and turned the ball over 7 times.
Evanston’s offense didn’t really get untracked in that period, either, but the Wildkits eased to a comfortable 25-12 halftime advantage and never looked back.
“I love the energy GBN brought tonight, and they kinda hit us in the mouth at first. I think our girls were shocked,” Johnson suggested. “But I’m happy with the way we recovered from that. We looked more like ourselves in the second half.
“We had a lot of stops again tonight, but now we have to turn those stops into layups that we finish. We’re not necessarily rewarding ourselves for those stops yet, and that’s part of being a young team. The next step for us defensively is for us to rebound a little better, because we’re looking for all 5 of them to rebound on defense.”
Lola Lesmond added 9 points and 8 rebounds for the winners. Junior forward Maggie Farragher, coming off her best performance of the season against Maine East, suffered a sprained ankle in practice Thursday and is likely out for the rest of the year.
The Wildkits have added a pair of games against Chicago Public League powers to their schedule. Monday they’ll host Simeon at 7 p.m., and on March 7th they’ll participate in a shootout event at Morton College against Kenwood.