GENEVA – At the start of the season, an opponent limiting Sidney Santos to four points probably would think it had a pretty good shot at beating the Geneva girls basketball team. But that was before the emergence of freshman post player Grace Loberg, who Santos and the other Vikings have unselfishly embraced.
“They’re amazing,” Loberg said of her teammates after scoring 22 points in Geneva’s 56-45 victory over Bartlett in Thursday's regular season-ending Upstate Eight Conference crossover. “They make all my points possible. They all make perfect passes to me and it makes my job 20 times easier.”
Santos, who will play NCAA Division I basketball next season at Oakland (Mich.), found Loberg often in the low post against the Hawks (16-11).
“That’s totally Sidney,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “She doesn’t care [how many points she scores]. She wants a ‘W’ and she’ll do anything she can to get it.”
The margin of victory for the Vikings (21-5) might have been greater Thursday night if they had shot better from close range.
“I was struggling making easy layups,” Loberg said. “I have to finish those next game.”
Geneva made just 3 of 14 shots from the field in the opening eight minutes.
“The first quarter was awful,” Meadows said. “We had a lot of little shots that we just weren’t connecting on. … I thought after the first quarter we kind of settled down a little bit and started playing a little harder.”
In contrast, Bartlett had few problems hitting open shots most of the night. Ally Giampapa had the hot hand early for the Hawks, scoring their first eight points to help them jump out to a five-point lead. Giampapa finished with 19 points.
The Hawks had to rely primarily on outside shooting because Loberg was a force in the paint, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking six shots.
“She’s starting to touch kids, wants to bump them and push them around,” Meadows said. “I thought she did a nice job on [6-1 Bartlett senior Elizabeth Arco] because I thought there for a little bit [Arco] was starting to bump her harder and harder, but she handled it and did a nice job.”
Arco had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Morgan Seberger’s 3-pointer as time expired in the first quarter tied the game at 11 and she put the Vikings in front to stay with baskets eight seconds apart in the second quarter on her way to 13 points.
The second of those two baskets came after Seberger stole the in-bounds pass. Geneva’s full-court press gave Bartlett trouble in the opening half, producing 15 turnovers. Loberg scored inside off a pass from Abby Novak following a Geneva steal to put the Vikings up seven in the second quarter, and they took a 29-23 lead into the halftime break.
Bartlett did a better job handling the pressure in the second half, committing just seven turnovers, but Geneva was still able to take advantage of Hawk miscues to extend the lead.
Senior Madeline Dunn scored on back-to-back possessions to put the Vikings up 42-30 in the third. Her nine rebounds helped Geneva win the battle of the boards, 44-28.
“She did a great job on the boards,” Meadows said. “I really think kids have bought into what we expect out of them and what we want and Madeline’s a good example of that. She’s just a hard worker. She’s diving on the floor, crashing the boards, and that’s what we expect.”
Janie McCloughan added nine points for the Vikings, who open postseason play Tuesday at Wheaton North.