GENEVA – Geneva added another post threat to its arsenal Wednesday night.
By the time Streamwood noticed, the Sabres had further muddled the Upstate Eight Conference River Division girls basketball race with a 53-45 win.
Streamwood capitalized on Geneva’s occasional energy shortages to outscore the hosts, 19-11, in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 34-all entering the final period before the Sabres once again channeled hot-shooting Jessica Cerda (23 points) and diverse pressure defense to pull away.
“That lifted us up like crazy. We were all just so hyped,” said Cerda, a senior wing. “After the third quarter didn’t go exactly the way we wanted, we opened up the fourth quarter running the floor and trying to get everything going and flowing. We knew that once we really started going, we really couldn’t stop.”
Geneva (7-5, 3-2 UEC River) defeated Streamwood by 24 and 26 points within one week in January last season en route to an unbeaten run through conference play.
While it’s too soon to tell whether the 2012-13 conference worm completely has turned on the Vikings, also witness the way Batavia closed the gap in a late November loss as well as St. Charles East’s overtime victory against Geneva last week.
Vikings players realize that considering themselves vulnerable is taking it too far, and runs counter to the confidence the program has possessed for several seasons. They’re equally knowledgeable about what will spark their consistency: a jolt in team play after some early-season bumps that included a season-ending injury to speedy Michaela Loebel (torn ACL).
“I feel like right now, there’s a lot of individuals on our team,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “And when we play together as a team, we play a thousand times better, and we’ve got to get back to that.”
Recent sophomore team call-up Janie McCloughan contributed 10 points and eight rebounds in her most extensive minutes yet.
Junior Sidney Santos (11 points) and senior Sami Pawlak (10 points, eight rebounds) also finished in double figures and asserted themselves down low at times. Streamwood (9-2, 4-1) often recovered with its speed and tenacity.
Outrebounded, 32-17, the Sabres created distance by getting after the Vikings on inbounds plays and as they brought the ball up the floor.
“If you can get tips, you can get steals. If you get steals, you can get layups,” Streamwood coach George Rosner said. “That’s what we were looking to do.”
The Vikings led, 24-23, at halftime and were within 47-43 in the final three-plus minutes of the game.
When a Pawlak steal resulted in a quick Geneva turnover, the Sabres promptly found Cerda, who said she “never let down” while struggling in spots of Tuesday’s home loss to St. Charles East.
Deja Moore, Streamwood’s top scorer against the Saints, had 12 points Wednesday. Hannah McGlone, the team’s tallest regular at 6 feet, scored 13. Meadows hoped her team could exploit its frontcourt advantage more.
“We had mismatches all night long and we didn’t take advantage of it,” she said. “I told them at halftime there was one kid who had equal height as us and there were two or three underneath us. I don’t know. I feel like we’re just content to play with teams. We played a game against Montini [a narrow loss Saturday] that we looked fantastic in, and then we come here and it’s just a drop. We’re inconsistent.”
Geneva played without senior Kelly Gordon (walking pneumonia), a top rebounder who Meadows called “an energy girl.” Meadows said Gordon may not be back until after Christmas.
The Vikings will break from conference play until Jan. 5 at St. Charles North, giving them time to work through things, albeit against a traditionally challenging field at the Naperville North-Benet Invitational.
Once Geneva returns, East (4-0 UEC River), Streamwood and Batavia will be equally eager to show strides, too.