Evanston’s girls basketball team rattled off the first 21 points of the game Tuesday night and tuned up for Friday’s showdown with New Trier by overwhelming Oak Park-River Forest 64-37 at Beardsley Gymnasium.
Senior forward Dashae Shumate scored seven of her team-high 19 points during that early run as Evanston improved to 16-5 on the season. Shumate also contributed 8 rebounds and 4 steals and classmates Seara Clayborn (12 points, 4 steals) and Sierra Clayborn (13 points) also reached double figures for the winners.
While Evanston’s seniors set the scoring pace, freshmen Leighah Wool and Krystal Forrester continued to produce in the roles that head coach Elliot Whitefield has expected from them from the start of their rookie seasons.
Tuesday, Wool was credited with 5 steals and 9 points and 6 rebounds, while Forrester notched 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, even though she failed to score.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without Leighah,” Whitefield praised. “She’s been a consistent scorer and rebounder for us all season. She handles the ball and gets assists, too.
“Krystal has done a great job of rebounding and she’s a really good passer. But all of the other girls want her to at least look to score more, and so do I. if she’s not aggressive and she’s not a threat to score, teams like New Trier will ignore her.
“I know all of our kids are excited about playing New Trier (18-1) again. They know they didn’t play well the first time against them. I think we’ve improved a lot since we played them and I want us to be the team that controls the tempo Friday. If New Trier beats us in transition, we’ll have zero chance to beat them. If we can make it difficult for them to score in transition, then I think we can be effective defensively in the halfcourt. We just have to avoid their runs in transition.”
Against Oak Park, the Wildkits built quarter leads of 23-5, 39-14 and 51-26. The winners forced 22 turnovers overall, including 8 in the first quarter against OPRF, now 10-13 overall.