ST CHARLES – The Geneva girls basketball team went back to man-to-man basics on Thursday, and it paid off in its 63-39 win over St. Charles East in Thursday’s IHSA Class 4A St. Charles East Regional final.
The two teams split their regular-season meetings with East’s smaller, guard-heavy lineup proving to be troublesome for the Vikings in both overtime contests.
After trailing 29-28 at half, Geneva finally figured it out defensively in the third quarter, holding the Saints to three points – all on free-throws – for the first 7:30 before East’s Amanda Hilton knocked down a floater in the lane. By then, the damage had been done as the Vikings turned a one-point deficit into a 46-34 lead after three.
Geneva coach Sarah Meadows points to a switch in defense that took the Saints completely out of their offense in the second half. The Saints blistered the nets in the first four minutes of the game, taking a 12-3 lead before Geneva could catch its breath.
“We tried a 1-2-2 zone and it was ugly. We knew we could play them man so we just made the switch and I think that was the biggest difference in the game,” Meadows said. “We preached it the last couple of days when we were preparing for East and it was just a matter of working their butts off on the defensive end and they did exactly that.”
Geneva’s switch and emphasis on defense in the second half forced the Saints to a paltry 12 percent shooting in the second half.
East’s inefficiencies from the floor allowed the Vikings to push the ball in transition in the third quarter.
Abby Novak scored six baskets via transition points as part of a 16-point night. Many of those points came on outlet passes from Sami Pawlak, who pulled down 15 rebounds.
“They play a fast game, but we were able to stick with them and play faster,” said Pawlak, who finished with 14 points. “We’re bigger than most teams so they couldn’t get most of their shots over us, so that helped us a lot.”