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Geneva girls basketball breaks out of ‘slump’ to beat St. Charles East

GENEVA – A lot of teams would be happy to win five of their first seven games, but the Geneva girls basketball team entered Friday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division game against St. Charles East far from pleased with their play so far this season.

“Our team was in a slump,” Geneva senior Sidney Santos said. “We had a team meeting. We were discussing how to make each other better because this team is so close and we really work good with each other. It showed tonight.”

The Vikings (6-2, 1-1 Upstate Eight Conference River Division) closed the first half with a 10-0 run to break open a tight game and went on to rout the Saints, 60-38.

St. Charles East (4-5, 1-1) had trouble stopping Geneva’s post players, particularly 5-foot-10 junior Janie McCloughan.

She led all scorers with 19 points, most coming on back-door cuts to the basket.

“When we really unite as a team and get our passes down, that’s when we’re at our best,” McCloughan said. “I think we really excelled at that tonight.”

Most of the passes to McCloughan came from the high post and most of those from Santos, who finished with a double-double – 14 points and 10 assists.

“We read the mismatch,” Santos said. “She had someone shorter guarding her and she is so great at the back-door cuts. She’s so quick. She honestly made the passes easy because she got away from her defender and was wide open. She always does a good job of reaching her hands up and calling for the ball.”

McCloughan scored the first two points of the game on a drive along the lane to help the Vikings jump out to a quick 10-2 lead.

“She’s just coming on,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “We saw that mismatch all night. … Janie read that and she’s going to attack the basket.”

The Saints fought back, primarily behind the play of senior guard Amanda Hilton, who scored 16 points.

With 2:26 left in the first half, Hilton drove to the basket, was fouled, and hit the free throw to cut Geneva’s lead to 25-23.

Hilton, however, did not get a lot of help from her teammates. Hannah Nowling had nine points and five rebounds, but she and Hilton were the only Saints to score in the second half.

“I talked to the girls about finishing – finishing a shot, finishing a quarter,” East coach Lori Drumtra said. “This was a 4-point game with two minutes left in the [second] quarter and all of a sudden they go in [to halftime] with a 12-point lead. It’s silly turnovers. It’s not getting rebounds. I mean, how many offensive boards did they get? Any team that gets two or three shots at the basket – they’re going to make those.”

The Saints had 26 rebounds compared with 37 for the Vikings, which included 11 on the offensive end. Abby Novak grabbed nine boards for Geneva to go along with seven points. McCloughan nabbed eight rebounds, and Santos and Michaela Loebel had five apiece.

“Coming off our first conference game, our loss against Batavia, we needed to come into this game meaning business, and I think that we got that done,” McCloughan said. “It is definitely a confidence boost.”

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