Girls Basketball: Seniors lead the way as Evanston beats Oak Park-River ForestEvanston sophomore Seara Clayborn does up for a basket against Maine South freshman Nina Duric during a varsity girls basketball game at Evanston Township High School on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2012 11:50PM
Evanston was dominant in the first quarter and Wildkits forward Alecia Cooley was dominant after that in a 55-39 non-conference win over Oak Park-River Forest Saturday in Evanston.
Evanston (13-10) celebrated Senior Night by changing its starting lineup to include its five 12th-graders. But the team did not seem to miss a beat. Sinclair Cunningham, a senior who always starts, scored seven of her 10 points in the first quarter.
Many of the Wildkits then went cold from the field.
But Cooley, who came off the bench, scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. The 6-foot-2 junior, who had 15 points in the final three quarters, seemed to have an answer every time the Huskies threatened to get back into the game.
“(Cooley) has been our most stable player, consistently getting double-doubles,” Evanston head coach Elliot Whitefield said. “She was getting hit a lot early on. But she’ll fight through it. She continues to impress and develop her toughness. She is doing well.”
Junior guard Gabrielle Nottage scored eight points for the Wildkits, who were playing without regular starter Sierra Clayborn, who had received stitches during Friday night’s game against Waukegan. Nine Evanston players got on the scoresheet.
OPRF (10-17) struggled from the field all night, but did get to within 13 points of Evanston in the third quarter.
Junior Caroline Kelty led the Huskies with 12 points. Juniors Maeve Connelly and Cuyla Hall scored 10 apiece. Oak Park hit 16 of 24 free throws.
“We just couldn’t hit any shots. We really struggled offensively, as well as free throws. But defensively, I thought we played pretty well, particularly in the second half,” Huskies head coach Bob Biggins said. “A 20-2 hole is pretty tough to get out of, and we never quite got over the hump.”