Searching for consistency from her team, Geneva girls basketball coach Sarah Meadows didn't find it Saturday afternoon.
The Vikings (12-9) shot out to an 8-point lead midway through the first quarter against Romeoville (19-3) but were unable to maintain control of the basketball nor the game during an eventual 68-58 loss in the 23rd annual McDonald's Shootout held at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park.
"It's about effort, really," said Vikings coach Sarah Meadows. "That team is good but I don't think they're 10 points better than us."
Fresh from their emotional 75-69 overtime win over Upstate Eight Conference River Division rival St. Charles East Friday night, the Vikings got off to a promising start as a 3-pointer by junior point guard Sidney Santos gave them a 13-5 lead a little more than 3 minutes into the action.
Romeoville went on an 11-0 run to take an 18-15 lead before another 3-pointer from Santos from the top of the key tied the game at 18-18 after 1 quarter.
Fueled by Gardner-Webb recruit Kiera Currie (game-high 25 points), the Spartans enjoyed an 11-4 run over the final 4 minutes of the second quarter to grab a 35-28 halftime advantage.
Turnovers plagued the Vikings throughout, especially in the third quarter when 10 miscues helped Romeoville extend its lead to double digits at 51-39.
"Throwing the ball all over the place -- just careless with the ball," Meadows said of her team's 32 turnovers. "It's making better decisions, using pass fakes, doing the little things that matter. I'm not degrading Romeoville but I think we beat ourselves. We made a lot of silly mistakes."
Defensively, the Vikings gave up a lot of easy baskets and sent the Spartans to the free-throw line with regularity (23-for-30).
"We need to work on stopping the ball and we need to work on stopping the ball," said Meadows.
Romeoville senior guard Abby Smith added 22 points, including the 1,000th point of her prep career in the fourth quarter.
"(Number) 14 (Smith) was in the middle of the lane before somebody would step up and guard her," said Meadows. "A bad player can make that shot and she's a great player -- she can make that shot every time."
The Vikings received a scare when Santos fell to the floor and had to be helped to the bench with 2:11 left in the second quarter.
"I stepped on someone's foot," Santos said of her sprained left ankle. "It's my second sprain in 1 ½ weeks."
It was a bit of déjà vu for Santos, whose older sister, Ashley, suffered a torn ACL during last year's McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook.
"I wasn't thinking about it until my mom walked over and clearly joking around said, 'we can't come back here, it happened at the same end and about the same exact time that Ashley's did,'" said Santos, who returned midway through the third quarter and went on to lead the Vikings with 18 points.
"She's a kid who has so much heart," Meadows said of Santos. "There was no way she was going to sit on that bench and watch what was going on."
Kelly Gordon added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Vikings, while Sami Pawlak also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards before fouling out with 2:33 remaining. Sophomore Abby Novak had 12 points.
"We've only given up 39 points per game coming into this," said Romeoville coach Julio Carrasco. "It was a little different pace today. They like to run. But we got to the free-throw line and made most of them."