After a year away, a the regional championship plaque has returned to Evanston.
Behind a 15-0 run stretching between two quarters, the Wildkits flipped an early deficit, into a comfortable 63-46 win over Maine South on Friday night.
“This is what we prepared for all summer and all season long, so being able to pull it off is pretty amazing.” said Evanston’s Jayla Turchin. ”
“It’s a really great feeling. Last year was a really tough year for me with my mom and coming back where we didn’t finish it,” said Evanston head coach Brittanny Johnson. “I took regionals for granted when I was at Fenwick because it wasn’t a big deal and I will tremendously appreciate every regional that we ever win from this point on because they’re very hard to get.”
Evanston were led by junior Kayla Turchin, who coming into the season didn’t receive the kind of attention that her fellow classmates had, but her impact on this team cannot be understated.
The breakout star of this Evanston team finished with an incredible stat line of 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks and was borderline unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball.
“She’s just incredible,” said coach Johnson who was all smiles. “Early when she got into foul trouble I trusted her to go back in and not get another one and she didn’t. She’s just a dynamic, phenomenal player and we’re just lucky to have her.”
“Really my success this year has been because of Coach Johnson,” added Turchin. “She’s been pushing me every practice, tough on me every practice and she knew I could do it, so it’s really all to her.”
Although Evanston eventually strung together a couple of runs to take the game going away, in the early going Maine South looked to be the much better team and lead by as many as nine points early in the contest.
Maine South frustrated Evanston as they sat back in a zone leaving little room for Evanston’s bigs and athletic guards to operate.
Evanston’s scoring drought was finally broken when senior three point specialist Delaney Brooks (eight points, two assists) entered the game and gave the Wildkits the offensive spark they needed to get back into the game.
“It was huge, and she’s been really frustrated because of her injury and I know she was frustrated for not making the three point shootout earlier in the day,” Johnson said. “I just kind of told her forget about it, she shoots well here and those two threes and steal that she had really sparked us and helped us get back into the game.”
From that point on, everybody on the Wildkits started to heat up. SyAnn Holmes went on a personal 5-0 run to bring Evanston within one, Kayla Henning was able to stretch the defense with a three, which left plenty of room for Turchin to take over.
Maine South didn’t go away easily, as a four point play from Hannah Schilling got the Hawks to back within four, but another large run in the fourth quarter close things out for the Wildkits.
With the win, Evanston moves on to host their own sectional which boasts the likes of Maine West, Glenbrook South, and Evanston’s next opponent Loyola.
Loyola beat Evanston earlier this year, and knocked the Wildkits out of the playoffs last season but a confident and healthy Evanston squad continue to look forward.
“It’s a new season, our goal was to just get back to the sectional once we knew when we were hosting,” said Johnson. “Loyola is a really good team, it’s going to be a completely different game plan but I just feel comfortable at home and hopefully it will give us the spark that we need against them”
Sectional action will begin on Monday, February 18 with a double header at 6:00 and 7:30.