A long bus ride and an unusual midweek game couldn't slow down Geneva's girls basketball team.
The Vikings traveled to Maine South in Park Ridge Wednesday night and came away with a 68-36 nonconference win over a good Hawks team.
"We usually play Tuesdays and Thursdays," said Geneva senior Grace Loberg, " so to have a Wednesday game, with a late start (7:30 p.m.,) was kind of strange. It didn't bother us though -- you've just got to stay focused during the day and stay focused during the game."
It didn't hurt that the Vikings got off to a scalding hot start, hitting their first 8 shots of the contest.
"It definitely feels good to get off to a start like that," said Geneva coach Sarah Meadows. "We've been stressing that lately."
Vikings guard Margaret Whitley hit 3 consecutive 3-pointers in the visitor's early hot-shooting flurry, leading Geneva to a 20-2 lead late in the first quarter.
At that point, Maine South pulled its starters and sent a completely new team on the floor.
"I just felt like they didn't have the proper focus and attitude," said Hawks coach Mark Smith.
Smith sent his starters back in for the second quarter, and they responded by cutting the Geneva advantage to 27-14 paced by sophomore Nicole Scales, who scored 5 of her 7 points in the second stanza.
"They came back out with the proper demeanor, attitude, focus and shot selection," said Smith. "It's a shame that we didn't start out that way."
Maine South had chances to cut the deficit even further, but a monster second quarter from Loberg, a 6-2 senior, helped Geneva extend the advantage.
Loberg scored 4 points, grabbed 6 boards, had 2 steals and 2 blocks in the second period to boost Geneva to a 36-18 halftime lead.
"Our shooters were hot early," said Loberg. "That really helped us take the momentum right away."
Loberg's 2 quick layups to start the second half pushed the Vikings to a 22-point lead, and Maine South couldn't get much closer the rest of the way.
Both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter, and many of the reserves were able to excel.
Ava Gardner hit a couple free throws and played some rugged defense in the period for Maine South, while Geneva's Kristin Ralston had a tough rebound and 3-point play in the paint.
Vikings guard Anna Burke nailed a long 3-pointer in extended playing time.
"We try to keep the energy up on the bench," said Burke, "and bring the energy with us when we go into the game."
Whitley led Geneva (18-4) with a game-high 16 points, while Loberg finished with 8 points and 10 boards.
Briana Borkowicz scored 13 points for the Vikings; teammate Madeline Yelle added 8 points while Scales and Sophia Albano led Maine South (15-12) with 7 points apiece.
"We schedule four (midweek) nonconference games every season," said Smith, "and we're proud of the fact that we schedule them against some of the best teams in the area. It exposes you somewhat, but more importantly you learn from it and grow.
"We were trying to close out high and low on their shooter (Whitley)," added Smith. "We knew what a good shooter she was, but we didn't execute."