The Geneva girls and boys basketball teams were a combined 47-10 going into the Vikings boys’ regular season finale Friday night, so perhaps it should be no surprise that the squads teamed up nicely in a huge victory for the Geneva girls Thursday night.
Those who have watched the Geneva boys basketball team semiregularly employ its 1-3 chase defense recall how successful the Vikings have been bottling up opponents’ marquee scoring threats under coach Phil Ralston.
The Geneva girls team’s opponent in Thursday’s IHSA Class 4A Addison Trail Sectional final – Batavia – certainly has an elite scorer in Missouri State recruit Liza Fruendt, who had torched the Vikings for 51 points in one of two regular season Bulldogs victories.
But in Thursday’s rematch, the Geneva girls took a page out the boys team’s playbook, employing the 1-3 chase, in which the chaser seeks to smother the offensive target while the rest of the team plays zone. Fruendt’s looks were limited; she scored 10 points and her teammates were unable to make up the difference as the Bulldogs sputtered to a disastrous offensive night, and Geneva rolled, 48-24.
“[Wednesday] at practice, we had all the boys coaches over helping us,” Geneva senior Sidney Santos said after the game. “It just describes the Geneva community. Everyone wants to watch us succeed. The boys coaches came over, they were looking out for us, they were teaching us new things.”
The Vikings have played excellent basketball in recent weeks, as evidenced by an impressive sectional semifinal win against top-seeded Wheaton Warrenville South. Regardless of what defense the Vikings are playing, Geneva’s seemingly teamwide length makes the Vikings difficult to score on.
But there’s no arguing with the results the defensive switch netted Thursday, and you have to think it will be tempting for coach Sarah Meadows and Co. to go back to that well in Monday’s supersectional against Rockford Boylan, and possibly beyond.
Persevering through yet another injury-marred season, give the Vikings major credit for this late-season surge. Losing twice to Batavia had to be deflating for a proud program, as was losing dynamic guard Michaela Loebel for a second straight season.
“I know me, Sidney and Morgan (Seberger), we play AAU together, and we would dream of going as far as possible,” said Loebel, who recently returned from her latest knee injury. “And, I mean, the past three years, we’ve always kind of had bumps and potholes. We’ve always had, like, little bumps in the road on the way down. But this year, our team chemistry is so intact. On and off the court, everyone is just so caring for each other and motivated. I think that’s what’s getting us to the next one.”
A timely assist from the boys program certainly didn’t hurt.
Surprise opponent: The Burlington Central girls probably expected a rematch game against Vernon Hills in Monday’s 3A Hoffman Estates Supersectional, but Carmel erased that storyline by defeating Vernon Hills in a sectional final Thursday.
After his team’s win against Rockford Lutheran, Rockets coach Mark Smith said he was “a little bit” surprised to learn that Carmel (24-8) would provide the supersectional opposition. Vernon Hills ousted BC in a supersectional last year.
“I think Vernon Hills wasn’t as good as they were last year,” Smith said. “But we scouted Carmel, we’ve got someone there watching [their game against Vernon Hills]. So we know they’re a pretty good basketball team, and they must be playing pretty well right now.”
Fleck, Thorgesen among Kaneland inductees: Former Northern Illinois wide receiver and current Western Michigan football coach P.J. Fleck will be inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame this spring.
Kaneland announced this year’s Hall of Fame class, which includes Fleck, Gary Nickels, Rick Schairer, Christine Heath, John McQuade and longtime coach Joe Thorgesen.
Playing under Thorgesen, Fleck led Kaneland to consecutive state football championships in 1997 and 1998 before starring for NIU as a wide receiver in the early 2000s.
Nickels and Schairer will be honored May 5 at Kaneland, Heath will be inducted on May 14 and McQuade, Fleck and Thorgesen will be honored June 2.
All community members are invited to a dessert reception before the inductions starting at 6:15 p.m. on the respective dates.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.