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If there's one thing to count on during the last decade of Illinois winters besides snow and cold, it's 20-win seasons from the Geneva girls basketball program, and then the Vikings doing their best to extend the season as deep into February as possible with some memorable postseason runs.
The only questions have been how far over 20 wins Geneva will go, and how far will the Vikings will advance in the postseason.
Those questions apply again this year to a team coming off a 24-6 season, returning all-area forward Sami Pawlak, a pair of dynamic guards and a finally healthy Sidney Santos.
Santos is joined by Pawlak, Kelly Gordon and Abby Novak to give Geneva an imposing front court to go with its always uptempo backcourt.
"We have kids who we have asked to play young and now they are have a year of varsity basketball under their belt," second-year Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "We are wanting to play fast on both sides of the ball. Our defense will win us basketball games. It will be exciting basketball this season."
Pawlak, a senior who recently committed to the University of Nebraska at Omaha to play basketball, averaged 11.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals last year.
Two juniors, Michaela Loebel and Morgan Seberger, both started in Geneva's backcourt last year. Loebel will make life miserable for opposing point guards with her athleticism and quick hands while Seberger should be one of the area's top 3-point shooters.
"Michaela will lead this team from the point guard position," Meadows said. "We expect her to have a breakout year. We will challenge her to take her game to the next level and she is very capable of doing this.
"Morgan worked a lot this summer on creating shots which will help her game a lot. She has and will continue to be a threat from the outside. We are also expecting her to have breakout season and take some ownership of this team."
Santos, whose older sister Ashley was a three-year starter and the 2012 All-Area Captain, is back on the court after ACL tears the past two years.
"She has worked extremely hard this summer to get herself in shape and has worked hard on her game," Meadows said. "Her knowledge for the game of basketball is amazing. She is able to do a lot of different things on the court. We will put her in positions which she will be able to show them all off."
If there's the definition of a "glue" type player, it's the senior forward Gordon, a three-sport athlete who stepped into the starting lineup last year when Ashley Santos went down with an ACL injury.
"KG does all the little things that win basketball games," Meadows said. "She is a hard worker and we will expect her to rebound like she did last year but we are going to ask her to score more this year. Every team needs a player who plays like KG."
Novak is another player who camme on late last year after Santos went down. Geneva moved her up to varsity as a freshman and she showed she can play at that level. Now a sophomore, Novak has a bright future.
"She has great skill on the basketball court," Meadows said. "We will ask her to play aggressive basketball both on the inside and outside. She has skill in the post and from the outside. She is young, but mature and ready for varsity basketball."
With so much returning firepower, perhaps the only question for Geneva is depth. Meadows said senior Ellen Dwyer, coming off an injury from last year, will help back up at point guard.
Meadows also is looking for junior Bella Medina to use her quickness to help provide guard depth, and she calls junior Anna Finch "a mini KG."
Coach: Sarah Meadows
Last year: 24-6
Key players: Sami Pawlak (sr., F/C); Sidney Santos (jr., F/C); Michaela Loebel (jr., G); Morgan Seberger (jr., G); Kelly Gordon (sr., F); Abby Novak (so., G/F)
Skinny: Sky the limit for well-rounded team