Coaches of high school basketball teams as young and inexperienced at the varsity level as the current Evanston Township High School girls squad can only hope that their players will learn from their mistakes.
The Wildkits are well ahead of that learning curve at this point. Just ask head coach Brittanny Johnson.
Evanston breezed to its sixth straight victory Tuesday night at Beardsley Gymnasium, slaughtering Niles West 57-26 in a Central Suburban League South division mismatch and improving to 7-2 on the season.
How lopsided was this one? The losers had more turnovers (29) than points scored and the running clock rule was in effect for the entire fourth quarter.
Some call it the “mercy rule” when the running clock is used. But the winners showed no mercy with their defensive intensity even against a foe that posed almost no threat to their unbeaten league record to date.
Zuri Ransom scored a game-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and only played about half the game, adding five steals as well for the winners. Taija Banks and Ciara Gentle contributed 8 points apiece.
Johnson credited her team with a focus on film study that she hasn’t seen previously in her years at ETHS.
“I admit it, I’m a film junkie, and I’m trying my best to get everyone else to be a film junkie too,” she said with a laugh. “I’m almost shocked at how much time I’ve seen some of them put in studying film this year. That’s how I got better when I was a player, because when you can learn to correct your own mistakes, that’s how you get better one day at a time.
“They’re starting to understand what it takes to be competitive and I really love the ‘buy-in’ I’ve seen from them. When they see it on film and make adjustments, it shows that they’re trying to get better. After that first game [an opening loss at Bolingbrook] we’ve had a consistent effort on defense, and it’s made a world of difference.”
Ransom fired in all 15 of her points in the first half, boosting the Kits to a 36-11 lead as they connected on 62% (15-of-24) of their field goal attempts. Niles West, in contrast, only got off 15 total shots while turning the ball over 18 times.
Evanston extended the lead to 51-16 after three quarters and there was no let-up on defense even when Johnson dipped deep into her bench.
“We’ve talked about not fouling so much, and cutting down our turnovers, and they’re starting to understand what it takes for us to be competitive against every team we play,” Johnson added.