Entering the season as defending Class 4A state champion, Geneva has spent the last four months taking the best shot from every opponent it sees.
The Vikings responded to each and every challenge, not backing down for a second from the increased expectations or exposure.
They worked harder in practice, they pushed and challenged each other, and they continued to display the chemistry that comes with a core group of seniors who have been playing together since the fourth grade.
The reward came Monday night in Streamwood in front of nearly 1,700 fans in a 54-42 supersectional victory over Rockford Boylan that earned the Vikings their second straight trip -- and third in five years -- to the state tournament and a chance to defend last year's championship.
"We really embraced the target this year," said one of those seniors, Maddy Yelle. "We knew not everyone wanted us to succeed and that made us go harder in practice, go harder in games and go harder outside of practice. We were using the shooting machine almost every Saturday this whole season trying to get back where we wanted to and we did it today."
Geneva (29-3) dominated an undefeated, 32-0 Rockford Boylan team that entered the game ranked second in the state.
The game wasn't as close as the final score indicated. The Vikings never trailed while winning their fifth straight postseason game whose outcome has basically been decided by halftime -- if not sooner.
"It almost hasn't set in yet that we are actually going back and get to do the same thing again," senior Margaret Whitley. "But I know once it does we want to go down there -- last year we were so excited because we got there -- this year we want to try to do what we did again. We're just really excited and looking forward and we're thankful and blessed with this opportunity."
Whitley and Stephanie Hart, who combined for 31 points Monday, are both four-year starters. In their four seasons, Geneva is a remarkable 106-19 with 4 conference championships, 4 regional championships, 3 sectional titles, 2 supersectional crowns and 1 -- for now, anyway -- state title.
"I'm so exited to share this moment as seniors," said another of those seniors, Madison Mallory. "The nine of us have been together so long and we've been playing forever so to have two years we can go back-to-back and fight for another state championship is just a great feeling."
Those nine also include Yelle and Brie Borkowicz, who emerged as key contributors as sophomores, Mallory, who transferred in as a junior, and Anna Burke, Anilise Bragg, Brittany Caskey and Lexie Moore.
"We've been working so hard throughout the whole season and really since we were all young," Borkowicz said. "It's so fun because we've been playing together since fourth and fifth grade. I think we do have that advantage since we've been playing together, we're all seniors, we don't want it to end. We just have a ton of experience."
Borkowicz said the season did present new challenges after last year's success, and the Vikings did lose back-to-back games in January to Mother McAuley and Loyola.
"It's definitely hard because every team is going to give you everything they have because you are defending state champs," Borkowicz said. "I think we really kind of embraced that throughout the season and we embraced the bull's-eye and we just came out hard every game."
Like a midseason loss to St. Charles North last year, Geneva has managed to use those two defeats to play even better basketball when it matters most.
The Vikings have won 14 straight games since losing to Loyola, none closer than 9 points.
"I think we needed two this year. Last year one loss was enough but this year the second loss stung more. Everyone just understood we had to do more and be more. We couldn't just show up because we are Geneva," said Vikings coach Sarah Meadows, who raved about the electric atmosphere at Streamwood Monday.
"Did you see our fans? The place was packed," Meadows said. "They (Boylan) did a good job too. Great atmosphere."
The final stop comes this weekend at Illinois State where Geneva should feel right at home after a pair of last-second wins on the same court a year ago.
It's a fitting place for this senior class to end their remarkable high school careers.
"This group of senior kids, they work hard, they do what they are supposed to do and they deserve to be there again," Meadows said. "I'm so happy for them. "