Geneva pulls away from Burlington Central
Burlington Central made 4 of 5 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 3-pointers, and hit 6 of 9 free throws in the first quarter.
Yet the Rockets still found themselves trailing Geneva, 20-17, after 8 minutes. That's how tough the Vikings were.
Geneva then proceeded to blow the game open in the second quarter, outscoring Central 18-4 en route to a 69-48 win and a spot in the championship game of the Burlington Central Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Vikings will face Sycamore, which easily defeated DeKalb in the other semifinal, Saturday afternoon for the title.
Leah Palmer led the second-quarter surge by scoring 12 of Geneva's 18 points. She finished with 23 points and added 5 rebounds. Lauren Slagle added 20 points while Cassidy Arni contributed 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Palmer said the energy of the entire team fueled the second-quarter scoring binge.
"We were all hyping each other up, the bench was crazy, everyone on the court was amazing. The energy just fueled me to go out there and do what I did and it was amazing," she said.
Geneva's smothering full-court press and high-intensity defense even in the half-court was the catalyst.
"They really opened it up. Our press was getting some key turnovers and we were able to convert them," said Vikings coach Sarah Meadows. "We want to be up tight, we want to be fast, we want to be aggressive. That's exactly our identity."
Central led 4-0 when Paige Erickson buried a 3-pointer on the first possession and Taylor Charles added a free throw.
A pair of free throws by Zosia Wrobel put Geneva ahead to stay at 8-7. It was only 23-19 after an Erickson layup, but the Vikings outscored the Rockets 15-2 the rest of the half. Charles finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks for Central. Rylie DuVal scored all 8 of her points in the second half after picking up 2 quick fouls and sitting out much of the first half. Emma Payton added 8 points off the bench, Erickson finished with 7 and Rebecca Carani scored 6 for the Rockets.
The Vikings' relentless pressure forced 28 turnovers and limited the Rockets to 36% shooting despite the hot start.
The Rockets played the visitors even for most of the second half, but the damage had been done. After the Vikings took their biggest lead at 51-26, the Rockets answered with a 3-pointer by Charles, 2 free throws by DuVal and a 3-pointer by Payton surrounding an Arni layup to make it 53-34, but Burlington Central could get no closer than 18 the rest of the way.