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Looking forward to some practice time after a hectic stretch of games over the holidays, that practice paid off in a big way for Geneva Friday night.
The Vikings brought back their diamond press with abandon, moving Grace Loberg to the head of it.
The 6-foot-2 freshman made life miserable early for St. Charles North, repeatedly deflecting passes or tipping away a dribble.
Loberg had 4 steals in the first quarter -- the Vikings harassed the North Stars into 9 turnovers in the quarter -- and took a quick 12-2 lead.
Geneva never looked back in its 61-43 win, stretching their lead to as many as 30 points in the third quarter when coach Sarah Meadows began substituting liberally.
The Vikings (12-3, 4-1) had not had a chance to practice with Loberg on the varsity until finishing up at the Montini Christmas Tournament.
"We got to work more on our diamond which looked pretty solid in the fist half," Meadows said. "Our team is so long. Our shortest kid is Morgan (Seberger) and she's not even short. We put Grace up there (at the head of the press) for her length and get some deflections and steals. She does a nice job of it."
Loberg finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocked shots and gave the anti-Allen Iverson quote about practice afterward.
"It has been a lot of fun practicing and getting to know them better. I'm having a lot of fun playing basketball," Loberg said. "I've been able to learn the plays more. They (teammates) are really helping me."
Janie McCloughan scored 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting to lead Geneva.
"We have been working a lot on our practices and stuff and we're all adjusting to new positions and really drilling it in practice," McCloughan said. "A lot of times we know where to get that steal. We're gelling really great and she's (Loberg) such a great athlete she just got it so soon. I don't know anyone else that could adjust so soon to the pace of varsity."
Seberger also scored 15 points with 3 steals for the Vikings, who stayed a game behind Batavia in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race heading into next Friday's rematch with the Bulldogs.
McCloughan opened the scoring with a lay-in off a steal and assist from Loberg. Loberg had 8 of the team's 12 points, scoring on a pair of putbacks, in the 12-2 start.
Leading 15-7 after one quarter, Seberger drained a 3-pointer to open the second and kick off a 12-0 run that ended with the Vikings ahead 26-7.
Reserve Madeline Dunn made one of the better plays in the spree, hustling to save a rebound from going out of bounds and passing to McCloughan for a short jumper.
St. Charles North (8-10, 2-3) never got going, making just 4 of 21 shots from the field in the first half and 14 of 49 for the game.
It was more of the same in the third quarter. Ashling Davern sank a 3 for the North Stars before Geneva rattled off 13 straight behind aggressive moves inside from McCloughan, Abby Novak and Loberg, then another 3 from Seberger to lead 43-15.
Nichole Davidson led all scoters with 24 points, 19 in the second half. She made 10 of 12 free throws.
Davern added 9 points, but no other North Star had more than 4.
"That's pretty good basketball," Meadows said of holding the North Stars to 12 first-half points. "I think kids are getting more comfortable in our diamond, and we got a lot of offense out of that."