The problem with playing a basketball schedule consisting mostly of conference games is that every coach in the Central Suburban League is smart.
Smart enough to know that Lola Lesmond represents the main scoring threat for Evanston after the graduation of last year’s talented senior class.
So the Wildkits are searching for Plan B — Plan C — Plan D when it comes to putting the ball in the basket.
Junior Ellie Oif stepped up Saturday afternoon at Glenbrook North, scoring a season-best 12 points and helping the Wildkits complete a CSL South division sweep of the Spartans with a 64-40 triumph.
Now 7-1 overall, the Wildkits really didn’t have much difficulty earning the win, building a 40-21 edge by halftime. Oif, a slender 5-foot-9 junior forward who led the junior varsity in scoring last year, tallied all 12 of her points in the first half in a variety of ways — rebound baskets, fast breaks and a 3-pointer on her first shot of the game.
Lesmond fired in 19 points and freshman Zuri Ransom added 11 points and 5 rebounds for the winners, who host Chicago Simeon on Monday at 7 p.m. in a prime time nonconference matchup.
Oif connected on 5-of-9 field goal attempts and is starting to emerge as another offensive option after replacing injured Maggie Farragher in the starting lineup this week.
Faced with a box-and-1 defense employed by the Spartans, Lesmond still managed to fire in 5 3-point baskets in the first half — only attempting a total of 6 shots from the field. The 6-foot junior standout was also credited with a team-high 9 rebounds.
ETHS head coach Brittanny Johnson expects to see more of the same attention paid to Lesmond by enemy defenses from Glenbrook South, Maine South and New Trier over the second half of the season.
“I was most pleased today by the way we were moving and cutting against their box-and-1,” said Johnson. “We see some variety of that defense from all the teams in the conference against Lola. I think she’s done a good job of occupying the defenses and causing the other kids to get more open looks. It was so nice to see them putting themselves in good positions on offense. Today was definitely a step forward for us.
“When Ellie was a freshman, the coaching staff identified her as someone with a great feel for the game, a good basketball IQ. The biggest thing for her right now is her confidence. She’s so athletic and she can knock down those open shots. Sometimes she doesn’t look for her shot, but today she did. She and Maggie are really our ‘glue’ players. They’re selfless, and they make the right plays out there.”
Glenbrook North (2-6) closed to within 18-15 early in the second quarter on a 3-point play by Ellie deZonna. The visitors responded in a big way, as a rebound bucket by Oif started an 18-1 run that blew the contest open.
Ransom took over her share of the scoring burden in the third quarter, netting 7 points as ETHS outscored the hosts 15-9 and pulled away even more.
Sarah Ryan and deZonna paced GBN with 8 points apiece.