As a favorite in the postseason there's an adage that you don't want to let an underdog hang around. The longer they do the more confidence they get and the more the pressure builds on you.
No. 4 seed Geneva made sure No. 20 Glenbard East didn't think about its second upset in as many nights Tuesday at the Class 4A St. Charles East regional, scoring the first 19 points of the game on its way to an easy 54-39 victory.
"It really gave us a confidence boost to show us we can play as a team and we can go far," Geneva sophomore Abby Novak said. "We did a good job coming out strong and confident."
The Vikings (18-10) will play St. Charles East (18-11) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night looking for their fifth straight regional championship. The teams split two excellent regular season meetings that both went to overtime.
Geneva's early surge didn't come as much of a surprise considering how well it was playing coming into the postseason, shaking off a slow start to win the Upstate Conference River Division and then beating Neuqua Valley last Friday in the UEC crossover championship game.
"So happy to see that," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said of the fast start. "We talked about that. This was a game that could have been overlooked. East plays hard, they have nothing to lose. I was real happy with the pressure we started with, and we were on fire."
It took all of five seconds for Morgan Seberger to sink a 3-pointer from the right wing on a pass from Sidney Santos. With 6:34 left in the first quarter Rams coach Don Finnie called his first timeout down 7-0 after fastbreak baskets from Sami Pawlak and Novak.
"Whenever Morgan hits that first 3 she's going to have a pretty good game," Meadows said. "I wanted some intensity to start and they brought it."
Geneva shared the basketball in the opening quarter with Santos, Seberger, Novak and Pawlak all getting multiple assists. Novak's pass to a cutting Pawlak for two made it 19-0 until a 3-pointer with 1:51 left in the quarter by Ellie Donovan finally put the Rams on the board.
"They were passing really well even in the open floor where we've been having a lot of turnovers," Meadows said.
Geneva made 10 of 15 shots in the first quarter while holding the Rams to 2-of-10 shooting and forcing 6 turnovers to take a 23-6 lead. Glenbard East committed 9 more turnovers in the second quarter while Meadows substituted liberally. Janie McCloughan's putback just before the halftime buzzer sent the Vikings to the locker room leading 38-15.
Meadows pulled her starters three minutes into the third quarter leading 42-17. Glenbard East outscored Geneva 16-4 to get within 46-33 with 5:17 left in the game as Meadows called timeout.
"We talked about that (bringing the starters back in) but I wanted to yell at them first to see if they could figure it out," Meadows said. "And they did."
Meadows left her reserves in the game, and Anna Finch and Bella Medina scored to quickly extend the lead back to 19 points.
Pawlak and Novak scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, to lead all scorers.
Glenbard East (3-23), which knocked off No. 13 Fenton Monday giving up no field goals in the second half. got 20 of its 34 points off the bench. Allison Hansen and Rachael Leifheit both scored 8 points.
"Geneva is just a really good ballclub," Finnie said. "Very athletic. We came out and played a better second half than the first half.
"My kids never gave up. With a record like we have they play hard every ballgame. Never gave up until the last horn goes off. It was a pleasure coaching these kids. I applaud them for their season. A lot of teams could have given up but they didn't."