GENEVA – Geneva received a single vote in this week’s Class 4A Associated Press girls basketball poll, a likely reputation pick given the absence of archrival and two-time Viking conqueror Batavia.
Wednesday’s 66-36 thumping of traditional power Fenwick might just sway a few more folks, injured Friars or not.
While Fenwick (8-15) played without Creighton-bound senior point guard Jade Owens – whose recent return from an early-season ankle injury has stalled – Geneva harassed any other potential scoring options on the perimeter and under the boards.
That often led to great looks the other way for Geneva (16-5), which led, 40-9, at the break. Vikings freshman center Grace Loberg had a double-double by halftime en route to 12 points and 13 rebounds. Janie McCloughan (20 points) and Morgan Seberger (11) also finished in double figures.
“We started from the tip and we did a great job coming out,” Geneva senior guard Sidney Santos said. “We knew that they were a good team, and we just kept pushing, which is something that we usually don’t do. We usually settle if we’re up 10. Tonight, we kept pushing and showed ourselves.”
Vikings coach Sarah Meadows substituted liberally down the stretch. Junior reserve guard Courtney Reynolds provided a key early spark by drilling each of her three 3-point attempts in the first half.
“One time, the net barely even moved,” Meadows said. “It just, like, vooom [went in]. It was cool.”
Typically an up-tempo attack, Fenwick struggled to counter with any rhythm from the outset while shooting 4 for 26 (15 percent) in the first half.
The Friars went without a field goal for the game’s first 6:11, when Maya Garland struck from the inside.
“We haven’t shot well in the last month,” Fenwick coach Dave Power said.
Owens, Santos’ Midwest Elite AAU teammate, likely would have made a difference, although Geneva’s recent work on extending its 2-3 zone looked formidable, too.
“The second we got in the gym and Jade wasn’t dressing, we kind of figured she was out,” Santos said. “She’s a huge component to their team. She’s a huge factor.”
Geneva returns to Upstate Eight Conference River Division play for the rest of the regular season, hosting Streamwood on Saturday night before a three-game road trip to Larkin, Elgin and St. Charles North.
Even if the Vikings win out, they’ll need help to earn their fourth straight UEC River title. Batavia is 8-0 in conference play, including a season sweep of Geneva, which could get a shot at revenge in next month’s Class 4A Batavia Regional.
Other than the 30-point margin of victory, the most prideful thing the Vikings will take from Wednesday is their hot start. The team had sputtered in stretches to begin some recent games, and used its defense to get ahead and stay there.
“As a team, we kind of feel like we haven’t quite been there as well as we can be, so we’ve been working a lot on our defenses,” McCloughan said.
The focus shifts to running and scoring after that. Ideally, it all adds up.