Girls basketball ends year with blowout win in regional semifinal and loss in regional final

Alexis Rogers, Assistant Sports Editor

After winning five out of six of their final games in the regular season, girls basketball went into the IHSA regional final with hard-fought momentum. Their 63-38 playoff victory against Niles West on Tuesday, which ended due to the slaughter rule, put them in prime position to take on state-ranked Loyola two days later.

The Kits fought hard Thursday night at Loyola, taking the lead briefly in the second quarter only to concede it for the rest of the game. The 43-30 final score represented the largest score disparity of the night, with ETHS leading 18-13 and trailing within two baskets for the rest of gameplay.

Despite a disappointing end to the season, the game was a clear improvement from the December 16 loss against Loyola, 55-33. Aside from momentum, the team had something else they’d lacked before: Zuri Ransom, recovered from the concussion that had prevented her from taking the court in December.

Ransom and fellow junior Kailey Starks were together responsible for 21 points, leading the team’s charges to the net. Loyola’s defensive coverage proved tough to penetrate, leading to more failed attempts as the game progressed. Overall, Loyola’s speed and spacing emerged ahead, though the Kits put up a formidable obstacle.

Loyola’s senior point guard Paige Engels dominated the court, scoring a whopping 22 points, mainly from aggressive charges resulting in layups past Evanston lines. Junior Morgan Bruno sank three 3-pointers for another nine.

The game was characterized with aggressive gameplay that saw more than a few players knocked to the floor. The Ramblers scored seevn points in the fourth quarter off of free throws alone, as time ran low and the Kits compiled fouls to stop the clock.

The IHSA series continues as Loyola moves on to the New Trier Sectional on Tuesday 21. The Kits will return next year with three of their five starters to take another shot at the state series.