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15-0 Run Pushes ETHS Girls B-ball Team Past Glenbrook South

One way to check the learning curve for a young Evanston girls basketball team is to watch the Wildkits on the defensive end of the floor.

The halfcourt offense may still be a work in progress, but opponents keep falling into ETHS traps on defense.

Glenbrook South couldn’t solve those traps in Saturday’s Central Suburban League South division rematch as the Wildkits stayed on top of the league standings with a 59-49 triumph at GBS.

An efficient and disciplined defense sparked a 15-0 run in the third quarter. It was almost an instant replay from Friday’s ETHS win, although the Kits waited until the fourth quarter to string together a 9-0 run that helped them pull away on that occasion.

Forcing inexperienced enemy guards to make hurried passes or bad decisions has become the trademark for the Kits, who improved to 9-2 overall. Rashele Olantunbosun (21 points) and Lola Lesmond (19) provided the offense on Saturday.

ETHS head coach Brittanny Johnson doesn’t mind the fact that her inexperienced squad is producing offense from its defense, rather than counting on outside shooting or dominating the boards.

“These are two really quality wins, and with the way we shared the ball and were so disciplined on defense, it kinda felt like we turned a corner this weekend,” Johnson said. “We trap like that because we want to cause a steal, either within the trap or on the pass, and I think we’ve done a really good job of not fouling in those situations. We have girls with long arms who cause a lot of issues (for opposing guards), and I’m most impressed with the discipline we’ve shown in those traps.

“The ability to press and sustain it for the second half, when GBS took a dip (in energy), is a credit to their stamina and all the running they’ve done. Defensive intensity is something that’s within our control and I’d rather lean on that any day. We just try to wear other teams down, and those runs (fueled by the defense forcing turnovers) are what helps us win games.

“That was a killer run we had against them today.”

GBS seized a 28-23 lead two minutes into the third quarter on a layup by Marina Markovic, and then it was Evanston’s turn. The Wildkits reeled off 15 straight points, and took the lead for good on consecutive basktes by 6-foot-4 sophomore Ciara Gentle. Only a 3-point basket by Tabitha Tibbetts of GBS ended the run, and the visitors took a 38-31 lead into the fourth quarter.

Lesmond drove the final nail in the Titans’ coffin by tallying 7 of her team’s points in a 9-0 run to open the period.

“After the Niles North game, I challenged both Z (Olantunbosun) and Lola to work together better,” Johnson said. “I know it’s hard to expect that much because we didn’t have a preseason to work on it, but I think they’ve come together better the last two games. There’s no question that we need both of them to play well, for us to be successful as a team.”