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For the second time this season, Evanston’s girls basketball team bounced back from a loss with a lopsided win.
But for the first time, head coach Brittanny Johnson had to turn up the volume all the way to 11 following a 63-32 drilling of Niles North Tuesday night in Skokie.
The Central Suburban League crossover contest was a contest in name only. After surrendering the first basket of the game, the Wildkits scored 18 unanswered points in the first quarter. Evanston improved to 8-2 on the year behind 12 points apiece from Lola Lesmond and Sofia Rocca, along with 8 points and 7 rebounds — both career highs — from senior Ryann Lucas.
In the postgame meeting, Johnson sent a message loud and clear to her young squad that playing the right way is the only way, in an effort to prevent them from slipping into bad habits for the second half of the season.
“I gave an impassioned speech,” said the head coach. “I really felt like we didn’t compete very well tonight. I’m not worried about the scores, I’m more concerned about how we look, and I’ve always felt that way. We’re still not boxing out, we’re still not rebounding. We have to get better every single game.
“I could definitely tell there was a drag (in the energy department) after last night’s game against Simeon. Maybe it was a little bit of fatigue, I don’t know. Games like this are hard to play. It takes mental toughness to play the right way. We made a lot of wrong plays tonight, and got rewarded for them, but I don’t want us to get complacent.”
The Kits, who play a home and home series this weekend against Glenbrook South, built a 28-11 halftime lead and pushed the advantage to 48-28 against a poor shooting Viking team. The hosts shot just 12-of-53 from the field, or 23 percent.
Lucas earned her first varsity start because freshman point guard Zuri Ransom was sidelined after injuring her finger in the loss to Simeon. She’ll find out Wednesday if it’s broken.
Lucas, a senior, rejoined the program this year after focusing on club soccer last season. She’s also a standout for the ETHS varsity and will play in college, but Johnson said she’s happy to have the senior back on the roster again.
“Ryann played well for us yesterday, too,” Johnson noted. “We weren’t able to work around her schedule last year, but she got a college scholarship for soccer so that wasn’t a terrible decision for her. She did lead the JV team in scoring as a sophomore and now we’re starting to see the player I saw two years ago.
“I really appreciate the toughness she brings over from soccer. It’s cool to see her bring that intensity over to basketball, and we were struggling rebounding before. She made the most of that start tonight.”
Lucas converted 3-of-7 field goal attempts and also contributed 2 steals in the lopsided win over the Vikings. She tallied 4 points during that 18-0 run in the first period.
Rocca registered a career-high 12 points on a 6-for-7 shooting effort of her own.