There's plenty afoot in Geneva, where the Vikings have rallied from a 3-2 start in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division to move into position for a possible tie for the conference title.
Geneva enters Saturday's River finale against St. Charles North with a 9-2 conference record. Fellow contender Streamwood, 8-2 in the league, was set to visit struggling Larkin Thursday night before hosting Batavia on Saturday afternoon.
Avenging an earlier loss to the Sabres with a Jan. 25 road win vaulted the Vikings back into prime position. Senior forward Kelly Gordon lauded the team's focus during practices leading up to the game, her first against Streamwood this season after a December bout with walking pneumonia.
"I was just thinking about how last time I didn't get a chance to play Streamwood, and I thought it's my job to bring the energy to the court," Gordon said. "I may not be the most talented person, but I'll always hustle, and that's my favorite part of my game."
Before this season, Geneva had lost just one conference game since the beginning of 2008-09. The Vikings can win the outright River title with a victory against North and a Streamwood loss. The Sabres are vying for the program's first conference crown of any kind since the 1987-88 team tied for the UEC lead.
Should both teams finish 10-2 in the conference, the tiebreaker to determine the River representative in the Feb. 8 UEC championship crossover would come down to points allowed since the Vikings and Sabres split their head-to-head meetings.
With 418 points allowed in 10 conference games, Streamwood still may hold the inside track to visiting the UEC Valley champ. Geneva has allowed 489 points in 11 games. The other six conference crossovers will be held Thursday, all at Valley sites.
In the event of another tie, points scored is the next criterion, followed by a coin flip.
More Geneva foot notes
• Vikings coach Sarah Meadows said sophomore forward Abby Novak, who has been out for about a week with a foot injury, will play against North.
• Sami Pawlak and Sidney Santos often gain attention for their standout play, but they've felt a few extra eyeballs this season even while on the bench.
Both Vikings still sport the fluorescent green Nike Zoom shoes of their Illinois Lady Lightning AAU team. Santos said they "never really felt like getting new ones."
Why should they when there's so much buzz around the current kicks?
"That's why we love them," Santos said. "People are like, 'What's up with the shoes?' "
Brown 'pretty awesome' on the glass
Aurora Christian sophomore forward Natasha Brown actually fell below her season average when she snagged 12 rebounds in Wednesday's Suburban Christian Conference Gold win at Immaculate Conception.
The 5-foot-8 Brown is contributing just more than 13 boards per game, and had a 16-rebound effort in a home win against St. Edward in early January.
"She just has a nose for the ball," Eagles coach Jerry Tokars said. "She's so quick and she really does have a knack for getting herself in position. It's pretty awesome."
Aurora Christian's overall rebounding edge has played a key role in its emergence in the SCC Gold race. Freshmen Ashley Hochsprung and Kirsten Madsen had six rebounds apiece at Immaculate Conception.
IN THE GROOVE
St. Charles East, Jr., G
What she did: Hilton scored 31 points in Saturday's 79-66 home win against Batavia, helping the Saints flip the script after an earlier blowout loss to the Bulldogs.
St. Charles North, So., G
What she did: Davidson led a deep North attack with 21 points in Saturday's victory at Elgin. The North Stars have won three of four after starting January 0-3.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Burlington Central can handle more than the Big Northern East. On Wednesday, the Rockets recovered from an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat Streamwood and improve to 21-4. "Any time you take a step up in class and play a team from the Upstate Eight and win, that's nice," Rockets coach Mark Smith said. "We played a great second half and came out with a victory. The girls are very happy, and they should be."
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Which teams win conference championships. While Burlington Central already has clinched the Big Northern East title, Geneva (Upstate Eight River) remains in the hunt for its own conference crown, while Aurora Christian and St. Francis are part of a logjam of contenders for the Suburban Christian Gold championship. Class 1A and 2A regionals begin Monday, with the 3A and 4A postseason slated to start Feb. 11.
COACH SLY SEZ
Some folks scoff at the St. Charles East mascot, suggesting he's no more menacing than the Burger King king he impeccably resembles.
While this Slylock Fox lookalike is in no position to judge, he does know this: the real Saints are going to be intimidating in the postseason.
A 4A regional host, East plays still-winless Lake Park in its opening-round game. A victory there would set up a rubber match with Batavia, a team the Saints just beat in STC. Should the Saints win that one, another rubber match could await with Geneva in the regional final. East beat the Vikings on its home court in OT in December.