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Evanston Friday, 1/11/13 Evanston's Seara Clayborn (15) drives past Glenbrook South's TeiganFlaws (13) during the first quarter of Friday evening's game. Evanston won the game, 35-31. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
On a hot and frenzied night at Beardsley Gym, the Evanston girls basketball team took a big step toward its first conference title since 2000, downing Central Suburban League South division foe Glenbrook South, 35-31, on Friday night.
“Our defense obviously picked up a lot,” Evanston senior guard Erin Boothe said. “When we commit to a win that we want, we put more pressure on the ball. When we get the lead, we want to bring it out, make them come, make them come play man and take it from there.”
It was fitting that a back-and-forth physical matchup came down to the final minute. With the Wildkits (17-2) clinging to a 33-28 lead, Titans senior guard Katie Dwyer drained a three-pointer with 1:08 remaining to put her team within two.
Glenbrook South had a chance to get the ball back when Evanston junior guard Sierra Clayborn missed the front end of a one-and-one with 53 seconds remaining but Clayborn managed to rip the loose ball out of her opponent’s grasp and the Wildkits were able to stall precious seconds off of the clock with a spirited round of keep away. Boothe was finally fouled with 14 seconds to go, but her first free throw rolled in off of the left side of the rim. Evanston’s victory was secured when Boothe’s second free throw sailed through the net.
The bigger Titans (16-4) used their height advantage to hold court for the first three quarters, but the Wildkits exploded out of the gate in the fourth quarter to seize the lead. Trailing 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, Sierra Clayborn drained her second three-pointer of the game to tie the score. Boothe gave Evanston a 29-28 lead with an open baseline jumper and then junior guard Dashae Shumate took over.
The transfer from Niles West began with an underhanded scoop shot to put the Wildkits up three. She then stole an inbounds pass and ran all the way down the court for a layup to put Evanston up 33-28 with just greater than two minutes to play. Shumate scored eight points in the second half, tying for the game-high with 10 points.
“There’s no shame in losing to Evanston,” Titans coach Steve Weissenstein said. “(Shumate) did a nice job tonight. She took some to the basket. She hurt us the last time too. That’s the thing with their team. You can’t concentrate on one person because they’ve got five people who can score, so you’ve got to play everybody straight up and she’s a good player and she can take people to the basket.”
The scoring heated up after an ambiguously sloppy first quarter, in which the two teams traded more turnovers than baskets. At one point, the teams traded six consecutive turnovers, and at quarter’s end, the teams had combined for just nine points.
Four Titans, Katie Dwyer, Katie Jennings, Molly McDonagh and Lindsey Oldshue, combined to score all 31 of Glenbrook South’s points, with Jennings, Oldshue and Dwyer scoring eight apiece and McDonagh tallying seven.