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At least one thing will be different for the Geneva girls basketball team when it takes the court Monday night in the Class 4A Judson supersectional.
During this past week while winning the Addison Trail sectional, the Vikings were able to use past frustration as motivation.
Wheaton Warrenville South had ended Geneva's the past two years in the sectional semifinals. This time the Vikings got their revenge with a thrilling 55-54 win on Janie McCloughan's free throw with .8 seconds left.
Next up was Batavia who had beat Geneva twice during Upstate Eight Conference play this winter. Geneva avenged those losses in a most convincing manner, 48-24 for its fourth sectional championship in six years.
The Vikings (25-5) won't have any such revenge on their minds when they play Rockford Boylan (27-4) in the supersectional, who they have almost no history with.
The motivation will be easy enough to figure out: win and Geneva is headed to the Class 4A state semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal against either Rolling Meadows or New Trier.
"I feel right now any game in the postseason is what team stays composed the most," Geneva senior guard Michaela Loebel said. "Because every team wants it. Before every game we tell each other this could be our last game. We just need to enjoy it with each other."
Rockford Boylan handed Huntley a 54-39 loss in the Crystal Lake South sectional championship Thursday. Jensen Blassage, who will play college basketball at Division II Florida Southern, led Boylan with 16 points and scored her 1,000th career point in the win. Kayla Steward added 13.
"We have a couple films on them," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "I haven't seen them live but we'll put our work in and be ready on Monday."
The Vikings did cross paths with Rockford Boylan in the 2009-2010 postseason. Geneva defeated Boylan 62-48 to win the Huntley sectional.
That was Geneva's second of three straight sectional championships, a team led by Kat Yelle, Lauren Wicinski and Ashley Santos that ended up losing its next game to Hersey in the supersectional, its only loss of the season.
This year's Geneva team has some connections to that one -- another Santos, Sidney, playing a key role, and a volleyball standout like Wicinski also making a major impact.
Sidney Santos topped the area for the second straight year in assists at 5.7 a game. Freshman Grace Loberg, after leading Geneva's volleyball team to its first sectional title in the fall, now has a sectional championship in basketball too as the team's top scorer (14.2) and rebounder (8.9) while averaging 3.3 blocks and 2.2 steals a game.
The Vikings are a true team, with any of their five starters capable of leading them in scoring at any time. It could be senior Morgan Seberger getting hot from 3-point range, which she did against WW South, or forward McCloughan attacking the rim and scoring in transition.
"It's awesome for these kids," Meadows said. "They are just good kids and they deserve it. They bought into what we are trying to do. They put the work in and it paid off."
Boylan and Geneva do have several common opponents this year. The Titans started the year at the Schaumburg Thanksgiving Tournament where they beat St. Charles East 79-63 (a game they led 16-0) and lost to Wheaton Warrenville South 67-60. Geneva went 3-0 against those two teams.
Boylan's sectional opponent Huntley defeated Geneva 47-36 at the Montini Christmas Tournament.
Anyone who has followed Geneva and its current 13-game winning streak knows the Vikings are a much different team now.
"We peaked at exactly the right time, postseason," said McCloughan. "Especially the second conference game against them (Batavia), that just fueled the fire in our bellies. We were ready to go right from the start. We were like we're not losing and we totally believed in ourselves the whole time."
Geneva's last three sectional championships came under coach Gina Nolan. Thursday's win was the first sectional title for Meadows, who will be trying to guide the Vikings to state for the second time in school history. Geneva defeated New Trier 54-49 to win the 2009 Loyola supersectional and ended up finishing fourth.
One of the biggest cheers following Thursday's win over Batavia came when Meadows took her turn cutting down the net.
"Meadows is the best coach I've ever played for," McCloughan said. "She's also my gym teacher. She's a great teacher, a great coach. She's a great role model. She's the kind of person you say I want to grow up and be like her."