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Except in their two losses this season, Evanston’s girls basketball team hasn’t faced much on-court adversity.
But the Wildkits found out what they’re made of Friday night in Beardsley Gymnasium.
Upstart Glenbrook South, leading 37-35 after three quarters, finally fell behind for good thanks to a 9-0 run to start the final period by the host team as Evanston prevailed 57-52 in the Central Suburban League South division matchup.
The two teams meet again on Saturday and head coach Brittanny Johnson knows her team will have to play better to keep hopes of another league title alive for ETHS (9-2 overall).
“This was a rough one,” Johnson admitted. “We got behind 6-0 right at the start and I was going to call a timeout, but I didn’t because I wanted to see how they would respond. I felt like we responded really well.
“GBS got off to a slow start this season (because of a COVID-virus issue that forced some postponements) and in the fourth quarter our stamina kicked in. That 9-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter was the difference — and so was the extra sprinting that we’ve been doing. We’re still not in great shape, but it really made a difference tonight.
“Some of their kids were struggling to breathe. It’s incredibly hard to play in a mask, it’s a struggle to breathe, and I really applaud all of the kids for the way they’ve adapted. We were able to sustain our fullcourt pressure against them for the entire game and that’s how I know our conditioning made a difference.”
Lola Lesmond (18 points, 9 rebounds) and Rashele Olantunbosun (12 points) led the scoring for the winners, but it was the hard-nosed defensive play and unexpected scoring from senior Ryann Lucas and sophomore Dawson Wright that trigged the fourth quarter comeback.
Lucas, whose role has been to rebound, defend and serve more as a “glue” type of player, scored all 7 of her points in the fourth quarter before fouling out. And Wright, a transfer from Warren, added 4 points, 4 rebounds and a couple of steals just when the Wildkits needed her most.
Lucas’ 3-point basket to start the final stanza gave ETHS life and the defense took over from there. Olantunbosun stole the ball for a layup, Lucas recorded a steal and fed Lesmond for another easy deuce, and then it was Wright’s turn for a theft and an assist on another Lesmond bucket.
GBS closed to within 3 points at 44-41, but Lucas scored on a putback and added a pair of free throws as the hosts built the lead back to 9 points.
“Ryann and Dawson gave us a spark, and we found our second wind and got the stops we needed,” said the head coach. “Ryann’s 3-pointer was a little shocking, but I could tell watching from the bench that it was going in. We’ve spent a lot of time lately on shooting drills and Ryann has really stepped up nicely for us over the last 3 games. She’s shooting a lot better.”