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Freshmen Fuel ETHS Girls Basketball to Regional Championship

By Dennis Mahoney

Ever since the girls basketball season started, the upperclassmen on the Evanston squad have been urging freshmen Leighah Amori-Wool and Krystal Forrester to take advantage of their offensive opportunities and shoot more.

Now that message is getting through to the duo, who led the Wildkits to their second straight Class 4A regional tournament championship Friday night at Resurrection.

Amori-Wool scored a team-high 10 points and added 8 rebounds, while Forrester contributed 7 points, 11 boards and 2 blocked shots to help ETHS crush host Resurrection 41-27 and advance to the Maine East Sectional tournament semifinals.

The No. 3 seeded Wildkits will face Loyola Academy, a team they defeated 52-45 during the regular season. Game time is Monday at 8 p.m. Winner of that game will face the New Trier-Maine West winner for the sectional title next Thursday at 7 p.m.

Evanston improved to 21-7 on the season behind a balanced effort that also featured 9 points from senior guard Sierra Clayborn.

“Leighah’s still not 100 percent (sprained ankle), but I thought both of the freshmen did a nice job tonight,” said ETHS coach Elliot Whitefield. “Res manned up (played man-to-man defense) against the twins and Dashae (Shumate), and they just sagged off of Leighah and Krystal. Leighah hit a couple of big 3-pointers after missing three or four shots, including a 3 at the end of the first quarter that got us going.

“Our seniors all accepted them right off the bat and didn’t think they were taking shots away from anybody. They’ve been telling Krystal all along to take the shots when she’s open, but she thought at the start of the season that they’d be mad if she did that. But the seniors have wanted them both to be more active on the offensive end all year, and I think being reassured by the older girls has really helped.”

The Wildkits needed to spread the offense around on a night when they converted only 14-of-50 field goal attempts, and also missed 11 free throws. But those  numbers still added up to a victory as the Bandits only mustered nine field goals on the night.

Evanston enjoyed a 33-17 advantage after three quarters.

Now Whitefield and Co. will turn their attention to the rematch with the Ramblers.

“I’m sure both teams have improved since we played them,” said the Evanston coach. “That Loyola game will come down to defense. Loyola does a great job of making adjustments, so we have to recognize who’s not being guarded. And we have to get out on their shooters better than we did the first time. If we can keep them out of their comfort zone, it should be a highly competitive game.” 

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