ROSELLE – Not everything Katie Montgomery has done for the Geneva girls basketball team this season has always shown up in the box score.
The junior guard has become one of the Vikings’ vocal leaders on a rather inexperienced group that lost five starters to graduation.
Whatever coach Sarah Meadows has needed, Montgomery has given her this season. On Thursday she finished the night as Geneva’s leading scorer, in a game where Meadows saw her team show the toughness she’s been looking for in a 54-39 victory over Lake Park in DuKane Conference play.
“Katie just has this aura about her, doesn’t she?” Meadows said. “She gives us leadership…She just carries herself in a way that’s not arrogant, not cocky, but she is just a gamer. She gets up for big games and we knew we were coming here tonight to play a good team. We knew they were a tough team, and I think we were tougher than them in the end.”
Montgomery finished with 13 points, knocking down three 3-pointers – one in each of the first, second and fourth quarters – to help the Vikings (12-6, 5-0 DuKane) remain perfect in conference play. She also pulled down nine rebounds, which was second on the team to Lindsay Blackmore’s ten.
While Geneva looked to be in control for most of Thursday night’s contest, Montgomery looked to the times where Lake Park made runs at the Vikings to where she felt her team stepped up.
“A big thing we’re harping on this year is having a consistent four quarters,” Montgomery said. “We kind of see where teams go on a run and we kind of cruise. We can’t let that happen. We have to keep the pedal down and make those leads even bigger. “
After a slow start from both teams, Geneva was able to build an early 18-4 advantage with a 13-0 run that stretched from the last couple of minutes of the first quarter into the second. Geneva sophomore Kelly McCloughan had seven of those 13 points for the Vikings.
One of those runs that both Meadows and Montgomery expected to happen from Lake Park came in the third quarter, led by DePaul commit Darrione Rogers. The junior forward, who finished with 16 points and 20 rebounds, hit one of her three 3-pointers to pull the Lancers (12-4, 2-4) within five, at 36-31, with 2:14 to play in the quarter.
But, a steal, bucket and the foul from Geneva’s Grace Hinchman ended that spurt. Blackmore followed with a 3-pointer, and Lake Park never got within eight after that point.
“I think a big thing was just to never let them get momentum,” Blackmore said. “[Lake Park] had a little run, but we quickly stopped it. When that happens, we just have to dig a little deeper and try to get easy baskets on our end. I think we did that and it worked out in the end.”
Blackmore finished with 12 points to go along with those team-high 10 rebounds. Kate Palmer, who had the task of guarding Rogers, with Blackmore, added eight points. Despite her 16 points on the night, Rogers shot just 6-of-25 from the field.
The Vikings have now won back-to-back games after losing four of five, three of those losses at the Montini Christmas Tournament.
Montgomery believes that was just the motivation her group needed to right the ship.
“I think it was great for us to play those teams,” Montgomery said. “We really got to play some quality opponents that exposed the things we need to improve on. We’re coming back into conference play looking to clean those things up. We want to finish the season undefeated in conference, but there’s a long way to go. I like the direction we are headed.”