Evanston girls basketball matches up against Benet in E-Town Showdown

Eli Cohen, Sports Editor

Evanston (19-2) vs. Benet (21-2) 8 p.m. tip-off.

How are the Kits looking?
The game against Benet will be the fourth consecutive matchup where the Kits play a team ranked in Maxpreps’ top 20 Illinois teams.

Even though the Kits’ record shows two losses, both came from imperfect circumstances. Their first loss came in a game against Simeon, where they ended up having five more points than the Wolverines, but had to forfeit the win due to eligibility issues.

Their second loss was against LaGrange, the top ranked team in Louisiana, who Evanston lost to by 10 points where multiple ETHS starters weren’t suited up. Even though they fell short to LaGrange, missing players isn’t something new for the Kits, as seniors Kaylen Hall and Tyler Mayne were sidelined for extended periods of time.

“It feels great being back out there, and even though I have to get used to playing in games instead of just practicing, my teammates and coaches make that transition so much smoother and comfortable for me,” Mayne said.

Even with the absence of senior stars, the Kits have thrived thus far which is in large part due to their versatility of skill-sets.

“I feel like this season when we’ve been in trouble, we’ve been able to be a different team every single time we’ve needed it. Whether that’s ‘we need defensive stops,’ or ‘we need to hit threes,’or ‘we need to get the ball inside,’ we’ve been able to do that,” coach Brittanny Johnson said. “I feel like that versatility is obviously what makes this team special, but it also makes this team really hard to guard, figure out and prepare for.”

What does Benet look like?

Benet is ranked as the top team in Illinois and for good reason, as the Redwings are sporting a 21-2 record fresh off of a state semi-final appearance last year.

From one look at Benet’s team, their size jumps out. 5’11” guard Kendall Holmes as well as 6’1” forwards Lindsey Rogers and Brooke Schramek are all DI commits. While teams with elite size aren’t typically the teams that are lethal from beyond the arc, this isn’t the case with Benet.

“I think one of the reasons why Benet is so tough is that they have, at pretty much all times, five girls that can shoot,” Johnson explained. “That’s really difficult to defend. They have great spacing, they’re well coached and they have a lot of experience.”

Because of their unique combination of shooting and size, they’ve established themselves as a strong threat. However, they are a team that the Kits are familiar with.

“We’ve played Benet every year at Montini, and I just feel like everywhere we go shootout wise, they’ve been there too. So, they’ve been a team we’ve seen all year,” Johnson said.

What does the game have in store?

Next Saturday’s game looks to be one of the most exciting games of the year. With the top two teams facing off in Illinois, there will be no shortage of star power.

“I think it’ll be a really fun game because both teams will have a ton of offensive firepower, so I feel like the team that defends better will win,” Johnson said.

Like Evanston, Benet is fearless with a full court press. Because of this, the game looks to be a rapid-fire, uptempo one.

Another area that the Kits and Redwings have in common is their schedule. The Kits were preparing to face Benet in the Montini Holiday Tournament, but ended up playing Lake Forest after Benet’s 45-44 semifinal loss. In the championship game, Evanston defeated Lake Forest 55-37.

Another common opponent amongst the two teams is Simeon, who Benet defeated by three points, and Evanston outscored by five. While Benet may be ranked higher, the Kits have a slight edge based on their common opponents. Regardless, it won’t be easy for Evanston.

Due to the game setting up to be an enthralling shootout, the Kits’ guards, Kayla Henning, Tyler Mayne and Zee Olatunbosun
will be relied upon heavily. The guards will be the ones having to beat Benet’s press, the defenders who will have to lock down the perimeter to prevent threes, and the playmakers who will have to find a mismatch on offense.

“I’m looking forward to Benet,” Mayne said. “We’ll definitely need to stick together as a team because when we play team ball, we’re unstoppable. Talking, defense and playing smart will help us with this game.”