Geneva girls basketball coach Sarah Meadows likes to use the annual Montini Christmas Tournament as a barometer reading for her team.
While things promise to get much tougher the next few days, the Vikings (9-0) began what is regarded as one of the state's top holiday tournaments on a positive note with an impressive 81-46 victory over Oak Park-River Forest (4-9) Tuesday night in Lombard.
The Vikings used torrid first-half shooting from junior guard Margaret Whitley to build a 44-29 lead at the intermission.
Whitley, who connected on her first seven field-goal attempts, scored 19 first-half points. She was especially lethal from long range as she knocked down five consecutive 3-pointers -- one seemingly deeper from the previous shot.
"She couldn't miss," said Vikings coach Sarah Meadows. "Her shot looked nice tonight and they were deep. I kept saying, 'that's another deep one -- that's another deep one.'"
Whitley finished with a game-high 21 points and 4 steals for the Vikings, who will face Hersey (12-1) in Wednesday's 8:15 p.m. quarterfinals.
"I spent a lot of time in the offseason working on getting stronger and trying to get 300-500 shots a day," said Whitley. "Getting as far out (from the basket) as possible."
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Whitley and Brie Borkowicz ignited a 10-0 first-quarter run as the Vikings grabbed a 25-14 lead.
Two more 3-pointers from Whitley and a well-executed touch pass from Maddy Yelle to senior center Grace Loberg for a layup were part of a 13-1 second-quarter surge as the Vikings extended the margin to 38-17 with 5:07 left before halftime.
"At halftime, I felt we took great shots and our assist column was loaded as well," said Meadows. "I felt like we were playing really well together, sharing the ball on offense.
"We haven't played since Batavia (Dec. 16) more than 10 days ago. I think they were just ready to go."
Geneva iced the decision by outscoring the Huskies 23-7 in the third quarter. Loberg tallied 8 points in the period on the way to a 16-point, 10-rebound effort.
"It's really good to see her get going," Meadows said of the 6-foot-2 Loberg.
Madison Mallory chipped in with 15 points.
"We always want to win and go to the right side of the bracket," said Meadows. "It's a great tournament."