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Sweep weekend: Geneva basketball handles South Elgin for encore

GENEVA – Two days and two doubleheaders equaled four victories this weekend for the Geneva basketball teams.

After sweeping archrival Batavia on Friday night, the Vikings took a pair from South Elgin in Upstate Eight Conference crossover action Saturday afternoon. The girls downed the Storm, 67-52, while the boys took a 58-51 decision .

The win by the Geneva boys kept them unbeaten on the season at 7-0.

“It’s better to be 7-0 than 0-7,” Geneva coach Phil Ralston said. “But were not naïve as to think we’re the cat’s meow yet. Tonight’s game showed we have things we still have to work on.”

Ralston was not pleased with his team’s defensive play, particularly in the second half.

“We did a fairly good job first half of defending,” Ralston said. “It could have been better, but had we played as well as we did first half, things wouldn’t have gotten as close.”

The Vikings got off to a fast start, hitting their first three shots from the field to jump in front 6-0. They led by seven twice in the first half, but Darius Wells hit a three-pointer from the left corner to cut the South Elgin deficit to 23-19 at the half.

Freshman point guard Matt Smith then scored the first six points of the second half for the Storm to give them their only lead of the game, 25-24.

Smith scored 23 of his game-high 26 points after intermission.

“We gave too much room to their shooter,” Ralston said. “Every time they ran a set, we did a great job of taking them out of it, but when they went to the dribble-drive, we did a terrible job of communicating on switching, we didn’t defend the ball screen as well as we’re capable of, and there was no sense of defensive urgency.”

The Vikings have a good young player of their own in 6-6 sophomore swing man Nate Navigato. He broke a 30-all tie with a trey from the left wing late in the third quarter to put Geneva back in front to stay.

Navigato led the Vikings with 19 points. He credited his teammates for his success.

“When I had an open look, they passed it to me,” he said. “I just shot and it went in. … Everything we get through the offense is going to be a good shot, so when we have those, we take them. They should be high-percentage shots.”

Geneva held a 30-19 edge in rebounding. Connor Chapman grabbed 13 boards for the Vikings. The 6-5 senior also scored seven points.

Mike Trimble added 12 points for the Vikings.

In the girls contest, Geneva (6-2) trailed early, 4-3, but took control of the game with a 19-2 run. Using a man-to-man press to create some easy scoring opportunities rather than its trademark diamond press, the Vikings built a 40-17 halftime lead.

“We tried our diamond there in the second quarter and we’re not there yet,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “We’ve got to practice that without Michaela [Loebel], and we haven’t yet.”

Loebel, the Vikings’ quick point guard, is out with an apparent ACL tear. She will get the official word on the injury Monday. In the meantime, Geneva is trying to figure out how to cope with her absence.

“We’re getting more comfortable learning how we can develop our own strengths to take over what her strengths were,” Geneva senior Sami Pawlak said.

Pawlak finished with a double-double, scoring 16 points and securing 10 rebounds.

Junior guard Morgan Seberger had 15 points. Six-foot sophomore Abby Novak added 11 points and five steals.

“Abby’s making a huge impact,” Meadows said. “A lot of steals, she boards, blocks shots, getting back on defense – she’s just a hard worker. She started off a little slow, and now she’s starting to play exactly like she can.”

Junior guard Nell Wentling scored 20 points for South Elgin (5-3). She scored 13 of those in the second half, helping the Storm cut a 26-point deficit to 11 late in the fourth quarter.

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