It's 115 miles from Geneva High School to Redbird Arena in Normal, a long road but nothing compared to the journey the Vikings have taken to get there.
From a pair of season-ending injuries to Sidney Santos to another to Michaela Loebel to coming out of the Addison Trail sectional as the No. 5 seed, all of those obstacles just made Monday's 60-41 victory over Rockford Boylan in the Class 4A Judson supersectional that much sweeter.
The Vikings earned their second trip to state in six years in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Judson, never trailing while dominating the Titans inside all night.
"It is so surreal right now," Santos said. "I can't believe this just happened. Me, Morgan (Seberger) and Michaela have talked about this since we were freshmen that senior year we need to make it to state and we made it to state. It's unbelievable."
Santos, Seberger and Loebel shared a long embrace when Vikings coach Sarah Meadows pulled them in the final minute to a standing ovation from the Geneva fans that packed its side and then some.
"Sid two years doesn't play, Michaela almost two years doesn't play," Meadows said. "How great for them. And Morgan has put together a fantastic senior year."
Geneva (26-5) will play Rolling Meadows -- who beat New Trier by a near identical 60-43 score Monday -- in the Class 4A semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Redbird Arena.
It has been a team effort for the Vikings throughout their postseason run, and Geneva's seniors got plenty of help Monday. Freshman Grace Loberg shook off first-half foul trouble to score 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, and junior Abby Novak followed with 16 points and 9 rebounds.
The Vikings turned the ball over 8 times in the first quarter but still led 15-8 by holding Boylan to 3-of-12 shooting and starting a dominating night on the glass.
Loberg missed most of the second quarter with 2 fouls, and Boylan (27-5) pulled within 25-22 at halftime.
Geneva quickly started the second half with an 8-0 run with four different players -- Santos, Loberg, Janie McCloughan and Seberger -- making shots.
That opened up an 11-point lead, and the Vikings continued pulling away from there. Loberg and McCloughan both had putback baskets to make it 39-29, and Santos found Novak on a backdoor cut for a 43-31 lead. Novak, who was 6 for 6 at the line, made a pair of free throws for a 45-33 lead going to the fourth.
"We knew they were shorter so we knew we had to get the ball inside and be tough," Loberg said.
Geneva opened the fourth quarter with Novak's baseline drive on the Vikings' fourth shot of the possession. Loberg pulled down 2 offensive boards and McCloughan another as Geneva was able to basically shoot until it scored much of the night by dominating the rebounding battle 46-17, and 29-7 in the second half.
"Their size really affected us," Rockford Boylan coach Paul Perrone said. "We had a 6-footer and 5-10 but then we drop down to 5-7 and they had height all the way across. I think they fought a lot harder than we did on loose balls and rebounds. That made a big difference. I give them all the credit."
Santos followed with back-to-back assists to Loberg as the lead grew to 55-38 -- the biggest advantage came at 60-39 on Seberger's 3-point play with 1:23 left.
By then the celebration was well underway for a red-hot team that will take a 14-game winning streak to ISU.
"Every girl just showed up tonight," Novak said. "We played our game. It was a team effort. Everybody played great."
Seberger joined Loberg and Novak in double figures with 11 points while the six Vikings who played the majority of the minutes all had at least 5 rebounds -- Novak (9), Loberg (7), Santos (7), McCloughan (7), Loebel (5) and Seberger (5).
"We had a real nice talk before we started regionals," Meadows said. "I said you can do it. You can beat the teams that are stacked up ahead of you. And they bought in. And they worked for it the last two weeks."
Jensen Blassage led Boylan with 19 points. The Titans made just 16 of their 47 shots from the field and 6 of 15 free throws.
"The key to the game was keeping our composure," said Santos, who also had 7 assists. "We are so ready. This has been our dream for so long."