Girls basketball season ends in Sectional final overtime defeat

Chris Werner, Sports Editor

Three Wildkits posted double digit performances and Evanston held state No. 1 Maine West to 55 points, their fifth lowest output in a game this season. But it wasn’t enough to topple the Warriors in the Evanston Sectional Championship, who entered the game at 31-0 and are ranked ninth nationally by the Xcellent 25 Writers’ Poll on

The 55-50 overtime loss on Feb. 21 marked the end of yet another successful season which saw the Kits finish with a 24-8 record and as champions of the Maine South Regional tournament.

The season could’ve easily been derailed as all five regular starters dealt with injuries at various points during the year.

“We didn’t want this to turn into ‘the season that could have been’ with all our injuries,” coach Brittanny Johnson said following the season-ending loss. “Luckily, we got everybody back down the stretch.”

Junior guard Kayla Henning, who was coming back from an off-season ACL injury and was not 100 percent for much of the year, had arguably her best game of the season. She scored 12 points and nine in the fourth quarter to keep the Kits within reach after Evanston began the quarter down 34-26.

“She definitely kept us in it; all our kids did,” Johnson said. “Everybody made plays down the stretch, we just needed to make a few more.”

ETHS may have very well made enough plays to come out with the victory, but they lost the game at the free-throw line. Evanston made only six of their 16 free-throws attempts for the game and only converted two of seven in the overtime period.

The Kits had an opportunity to potentially tie or take the lead in overtime, but missed four straight from the line when they were trailing by only two points.

“Free throws have been a huge part of our issues all season,” Johnson said. “Normally you lose with what you struggle with. We struggled with free throws all season and that’s why we lost.”

Junior forward and all-CSL-Conference selection Jayla Turchin led Evanston with 13 points and 13 rebounds and fellow all-CSL-Conference junior guard Tyler Mayne added 11. Junior forward Ambrea Gentle also received all-conference honors.

Maine West moved to 32-0 on the season and went on to beat Lake Forest by a whopping 19 points in the Super Sectional game at Palatine High School on Feb. 25.

Next season, Evanston will lose only one senior starter and if they find a way to stay healthy, they should find themselves poised to make another run at a state championship. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Kits in the final four next March.