Geneva girls basketball players chanted coach Sarah Meadows’ surname moments after rolling past Rockford Boylan to win a Class 4A supersectional earlier this month.
The last net strand needed cutting, and Meadows somehow wasn’t already in the middle of the action.
In her third season on the heels of a lengthy run as a Geneva assistant, Meadows revved the Vikings from a midseason lull while helping the team to a state tournament berth. The Kane County Chronicle Girls Basketball Coach of the Year figures her antics drew some smiles and eyeballs along the way. It was all in the name of boosting the Vikings’ energy.
“I hope so; that’s why I’m obnoxious like I am,” Meadows said. “We try to make our program feel like a complete program, not just a varsity-driven program. We have kids at the varsity level that are great examples for kids at the lower levels.”
Geneva undoubtedly relied on its pillars en route to a fourth-place finish in Class 4A, including senior guards Michaela Loebel, Morgan Seberger and Sidney Santos, an Oakland (Mich.) recruit.
In December, freshman post Grace Loberg joined the starting lineup after Loebel suffered a knee injury that threatened to sideline her for most of a second straight season. Loberg quickly emerged as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Loebel returned stronger than anticipated, her grit providing an image for the latter stages of a 14-game winning streak that lasted until a 51-43 loss to Rolling Meadows in the state semifinals.
The Vikings were 12-5 after losing successive games to Batavia and eventual Class 2A champion St. Thomas More on Jan. 17-18. They rallied to share the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title with the Bulldogs and eventually stymied them, 48-24, for the Class 4A Addison Trail Sectional title.
“Without a doubt, it was a bumpy road,” Santos said, “but so worth the while.”
Geneva (26-8) was tied with Rolling Meadows with 6:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. A night later, the Vikings recovered from an early hole and stayed with Marian Catholic in the third-place game before the Spartans used a late run to pull away.
“I felt like both of those games we competed in. I thought we could have tried to pull out a win,” Meadows said. “We were that close. In the Marian Catholic game we could have just rolled over and said, “OK, good season,’ but our kids just aren’t like that.”
Batavia learned first-hand in the postseason. Geneva’s relentless defensive pressure and offensive firepower ultimately turned the tide after two regular season losses to the Bulldogs, while also adding at least one more backer to the state run.
“I wanted them to do well,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “It’s tough to watch somebody you’re so close to down there, but at the same time you want them to do well. I mean, our conference, the River Division side, I’m sorry but by the end of it, that was a pretty darn good conference with how well everyone was playing at the end of the year.”
Geneva carried the torch longest. Once again, Meadows’ animated twists and shouts marked the path.