Evanston’s first road trip of the girls basketball season didn’t really require this much traveling.

But Friday night’s contest, Nov. 18, at Milwaukee Academy of Science in Wisconsin may have set a school record in that category.

ETHS Girls Varsity Basketball team Credit: Wendi Kromash

The Wildkits turned the ball over a staggering 37 times – at least half of which were traveling violations – and lost their second straight game to open the 2022 season, falling 53-40 to the host Lady Novas.

Since high school teams in Wisconsin play 18-minute halves, not quarters as they do in Illinois, that statistic might be slightly skewed since all of those turnovers came in 36 minutes of on-court action, not 32. But that’s still a 30-plus turnover pace and something the Wildkits need to fix sooner, not later.

At least that’s what ETHS head coach Brittanny Johnson thinks.

“Like I said after our first game, we are really struggling to find that one person who can calm us down and get us organized,” Johnson said. “This isn’t a bad team, we’re just not playing well. For some reason we’re playing with a lot of fear and it’s really disappointing to have so many turnovers.

“Most of those turnovers were unforced. I think (the officials) are a little more liberal with the hand-checking up here than in Illinois, and that sped us up. It took us awhile to get used to that.”

The visitors mustered just enough offense – when they weren’t losing possession – to build a 16-11 advantage on a pair of free throws by Ciara Gentle and another by Dafina Ukaj. The Milwaukee squad, however, responded with a 22-3 run to close out the first half behind star Beauty Waheed, who led all scorers with 20 points and added 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Evanston did manage to close the gap in the second half even after both Ariana Milam-Pryor (5 points) and Kailey Starks (7 points, 10 rebounds) fouled out midway through the period. Junior guard Zuri Ransom (team-high 14 points) was hacked on a 3-point shot attempt and converted all 3 tosses to bring the Kits within 41-32, but they only mustered 8 points the rest of the way.

Only a late 3-point bucket by Ukaj (career high 9 points) prevented the losers from the embarrassment of totaling more turnovers than points for the game.

“We have a lot to fix,” Johnson summed up. The Wildkits are on the road again Monday at Buffalo Grove.

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