Of all the talented Geneva teams Sarah Meadows has coached, she said this year's might be her deepest one yet.
That depth was on full display in a battle for first place in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division Tuesday night at St. Charles East.
While Sara Rosenfeldt was doing everything in her power to keep the Saints close, one Viking after another was making a key contribution. At one point late in the third quarter, only Rosenfeldt and Nicole Jordan had scored for the Saints, while nine Geneva players had.
Rosenfeldt ended up with a career-high 38 points, but it wasn't enough to stop Geneva's latest juggernaut in a 63-52 Vikings victory.
The win gives No. 3 Geneva (12-1, 5-0) a 1-game lead over No. 10 St. Charles East (13-4, 4-1) in the UEC River.
"We can play 10 kids on a night," Meadows said. "It is a deep team and we've talked about that all summer and fall. We have confidence in those kids on the bench and they keep proving themselves. They have played well in the minutes they've got."
It was Geneva's bench who helped turn the tide after the Saints got off to a fast start. After Jordan's 3 put the Saints up 5-4, Rosenfeldt hit a jumper and then drove hard for a pair of baskets and an 11-6 lead.
Over the next six minutes Geneva went on a 21-5 run, starting with Margaret Whitley's 3, then Emma Harkleroad's bucket inside on a feed from Stephanie Hart.
Lindsay Blackmore gave the Vikings a 13-11 lead after a quarter. Rosenfeldt started the second with a 3-point play, but Emily Uplegger provided another spark off the bench with a 3 to put the Vikings ahead 16-14, and they never trailed again.
Geneva's starters made plenty of key plays as well in building a 32-22 halftime lead including Maddie Yelle's steal and breakaway layup, another Whitley 3, and Grace Loberg's 3-point play on a putback basket.
A 3-pointer by Brie Borkowicz and Whitley's 3-point play opened up Geneva's biggest lead at 48-32 late in the third.
The Saints didn't go quietly, using a 12-2 surge to trim the 16-point deficit to 50-44 on Rosenfeldt's 3 from the top of the key. They pulled within 6 three more times, the final one at 56-50 with two minutes left as Rosenfeldt made a spin move while driving through the lane and finished with her left hand in traffic.
Whitley provided the dagger for Geneva on the next possession with her third 3, giving her a team-high 18 points.
"She played incredible," Whitley said of her AAU teammate Rosenfeldt, joking, "She better play good this summer. She's a baller.
"Having a lot of goals in practice and having goals in each game to reach, I think that's helping us get better and better every day."
Loberg added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Vikings, who shot 47 percent (23 of 49) from the field to the Saints' 29.4.
"Geneva is strong. When you look out on the court you could just tell a difference in strength and size," said Saints coach Lori Drumtra, whose shorter team scrapped to stay within 33-31 rebounds.
"I'm proud of the way we battled. For the inches we give up, defensively we try to grind it out. They are a tough team. It felt pretty good that if we clean up a few things we can compete."
Rosenfeldt scored 16 points in the first half and 22 in the second, making 11 of 14 free throws and also grabbing 13 rebounds. Jordan was second with 6 points.
"It's great getting my game-high but even if I scored zero and we won it would be better," Rosenfeldt said. "Geneva is a great team, they have been playing really well this season. We played well, we had intensity the whole game. It was close."