ST. CHARLES – The Geneva girls basketball team fired a lot of shots from virtually point-blank range Saturday afternoon and withstood a deadly long-range aerial attack by St. Charles North to win an Upstate Eight Conference River league battle, 61-49.
The Vikings (10-8, 4-2 UEC River) had little trouble getting the ball into the low post to 6-foot senior Sami Pawlak (21 points, 14 rebounds) and 6-foot sophomore Abby Novak (16 points, six rebounds).
“We thought we’d have some mismatches,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “Sami is a strong post player. She can catch and go right to the basket. She did a nice job with that tonight.”
The Vikings also took advantage of the size of 6-foot point guard Sidney Santos, posting her up at times. Santos also did a nice job running the offense, particularly in the final eight minutes, when she scored eight of her 14 points to help Geneva pull away from a 41-41 tie at the start of the fourth quarter.
“I am starting to get more comfortable and everyone on the team is starting to get more comfortable with their roles,” Santos said. “This half of the season, we’re ready to show that, yeah, we’ve had our ups and downs, but Geneva’s nothing to sleep on.”
Pawlak scored the first eight points of the game for the Vikings as they rolled to an early 12-2 lead. A driving basket by Santos put Geneva up 24-10 with five minutes left in the second quarter, but that’s when sophomore Sam Novak began almost single-handedly bringing the North Stars (5-13, 2-4) back into the game.
Sam Novak, a 5-5 guard, came off the bench to score 20 points. She connected on four 3-pointers in the first half, including one two seconds before the halftime buzzer that pulled North to within 29-24.
“She’s had a pretty strong winter,” North coach Colleen Backer said. “She had a strong tournament at Dundee-Crown, too. She’s really been working a lot on her defense – a ton. She’s a good shooter. She’s a scorer. She’s always been a scorer, but she’s working really hard on her defense to get her there on the floor.”
That’s not to say Sam Novak has been neglecting her offensive skills.
“I came in early to shoot, which I like to do before games,” she said. “Today, Geneva, it’s a big game, so I just thought that I really wanted to have a lot of confidence going in and just really turn it up. When our team is down, I feel they need me coming off the bench, so I just do my best.”
Sam Novak hit a trey from the right wing early in the third quarter to tie the game at 29. The Vikings went back up by six when Santos put back one of her seven rebounds, but a 3 from Alex Silverman and a pair of free throws by Sam Novak tied the game again at the end of the period.
“They were so hot,” Meadows said of the North Stars. “We gave up six [3s] to [Novak] and at least three to [Silverman]. Defensively, we’ve got to get better. We put in a new zone and we’ve just got to work on it a little more. It’ll get there.”
The Vikings also re-instituted their diamond full-court press for part of the game, which Meadows and Santos agreed gave the team a spark.
“I’m so glad that it’s coming back because it just gives us so much more energy,” Santos said. “It forces the other team to throw up quicker shots, [rather] than just sitting back and running their offense all the way through and get the shots they want.”
Nicole Davidson scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for North, which hosts Streamwood on Friday night in another conference clash. The Vikings will play the same night at Batavia.