GENEVA – What shaped up as an extremely promising season for the Geneva girls basketball team has taken a startling turn.
With returning standouts such as forward Sami Pawlak and guard Michaela Loebel, the Vikings were primed for another run to the top of the Upstate Eight Conference. But Pawlak broke her middle finger last Saturday, and the Vikings found out that Loebel will be sidelined for the season with a torn ACL suffered during Wednesday’s loss to Crete-Monee.
Without their two top guns, an emotional Geneva team was blasted by UEC crossover opponent Neuqua Valley, 45-22, on Friday for its second straight loss.
“It’s hard,” guard Morgan Seberger said, fighting back tears after the loss. “[Loebel] worked so hard, and it’s so hard to watch her sitting on the bench.”
Seberger, who admittedly is not a point guard, shouldered the ball handling duties against Neuqua and will continue to for the remainder of the year. Seberger had five points in the loss.
Neuqua, preying on a team without its point guard, applied a full-court press for the whole game and never allowed Geneva (3-2) to be comfortable on the offensive end.
“We did a lot better job of breaking the press Wednesday [against Crete-Monee],” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “We’ve got to take better care of the ball, bottom line.”
Wildcat forward Allison Hendrick led all scorers with 10 points, while Lauren Deveikis chipped in seven. The ball pressure was primarily the S’s in the backcourt for Neuqua, with Najee Smith, Malia Smith and Myia Starks harassing the Vikings for 94 feet. The trio combined for 20 points, attacking the rim on the offensive end and creating turnovers on defense.
The game was still close after the first quarter, with Neuqua leading 13-7, but the second quarter was all Wildcats. Allowing just one point in the quarter, Neuqua went on a 17-0 run, and a Deveikis three-pointer with 10 seconds left in the half served as an exclamation point.
“We just didn’t have any offense,” Meadows said. “We scored 22 points today, and last week we scored 23 in the first quarter.”
The Vikings will get a boost with Pawlak expected to return to action next week. However, the void left at point guard is a significant blow to the team.
“We have to stick together,” Seberger said. “We have to work with what we have.”