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Girls basketball: Vikings get win, help to take UEC River title

GENEVA – Conference championships are starting to become the norm for the Geneva girls basketball program.

While the latest Vikings’ squad isn’t quite as dominating as some other past championship teams, Geneva still is hoisting the Upstate Eight Conference River Divison crown after dropping pesky St. Charles North, 62-55, on Saturday afternoon.

The win, coupled with Streamwood's home loss later in the day, gave the Vikings a fifth straight conference title.

“We struggled, but it’s a 'W' in the win column,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “Second half, we adjusted after halftime and kind of pulled away. We switched our defense to man [a] after 2-3 [zone] didn’t work very well.”

Conceding several inches at most positions, the North Stars relied on their speed and quickness in the first half to take a 27-26 lead into the locker room.

North busted Geneva’s (16-10, 10-2) 2-3 zone defense with a barrage of 3 pointers in the first half while frustrating the Vikings offensive attack.

Nebraska-Omaha recruit Sami Pawlak, who celebrated senior day with four other Vikings, was held to six points in the first half.

It was Pawlak’s defense that helped Geneva take over in the third quarter as the Vikings held North to just a pair of field goals.

Pawlak, who almost had a triple-double on her last regular season home game, spurred the Vikings run with three steals and seven points during a third-quarter run that saw the Vikings turn a one-point deficit into a nine-point lead.

North was held without a field-goal for over seven minutes before Alex Silverman’s short jumper ended the drought.

The seven-minute scoreless streak spoiled a great effort from North, which outscored Geneva in three of the four quarters.

“One-point ballgame first, second and fourth and then it’s nine in the third,” North coach Colleen Backer said. “We were getting stops and our defense was playing team. They are a bigger team out there and we had a hard time blocking out in the third quarter.”

North was able to frustrate Pawlak and Geneva leading scorer Sidney Santos in the first half before the duo broke out in the third quarter. Santos scored 10 of her team-high 19 points in the second half to help Geneva pull away.

Pawlak was slow to get going but finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, eight steals and one block.

“We just had a slow start in the first half but came out warmed up in the second half,” Pawlak said. “We battled in the second half and knew if we didn’t pick it up, we’d have a very slim chance of winning.”

Despite the scoreless drought in the third quarter, North was still within striking distance midway through the fourth quarter.

Natalie Winkates’ steal and layup pulled North within 54-48 with 2:28 to go. The Vikings scored the next six points to push the lead back to double-digits. Nicole Davidson’s 3 with 1:06 left made it 60-51 but the North Stars would get no closer.

Davidson had a monster game for North, finishing with a game-high 23 points.

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