Geneva dominates Maine West, goes for 4A title Saturday
NORMAL -- After two buzzer-beaters here last year, Geneva found a way to win a state game Friday that didn't come down to the final seconds.
That doesn't mean there wasn't a little -- or a lot -- of adversity.
With their entire starting lineup in some degree of foul trouble, the Vikings went deeper on their bench than they have in the postseason. That depth -- plus some more red-hot shooting by Margaret Whitley -- helped Geneva secure a 58-41 victory over Maine West at Redbird Arena in the semifinals of the Class 4A state girls basketball finals.
The defending champion Vikings (30-3) will play Montini (34-2) for the state title at 7:15 p.m. Saturday.
"We're excited about that," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "Feels good, feels great. They know us well. It's going to be a fun battle."
Whitley was one of the players in the most severe foul trouble, eventually fouling out. After scoring 18 points in the first half including last-second 3s to end each quarter, Whitley picked up her third foul and went to the bench with 7:14 left in the third quarter.
Up 28-19 at the time, Geneva extended its lead on free throws by Brie Borkowicz and a Madison Mallory 3-pointer. When Whitley re-entered, Geneva led by 14.
Lindsay Blackmore, Kate Montgomery and Cassidy Navigato provided key minutes off the bench.
"I thought those kids stepped up in a huge game," Meadows said. "They did fantastic. Cassiday, Katie, I'm not even going to count Lindsay because she's used to that but I thought those two kids really, really helped us in a situation that could have gotten tough for us. That's hard coming into this big arena coming in and stepping up and doing just what we needed them to do."
Maine West (31-2), whose only two losses came to Geneva, mounted one charge in the fourth quarter. Alisa Fallon drilled back-to-back 3s to bring Maine West within 41-33 with five minutes remaining.
The Warriors got the ball back twice and had layups on both possessions, but neither dropped. They finished 11 of 44 from the field.
"These girls don't ever give up," Maine West coach Kim de Marigny said. "The ball just didn't go in the basket tonight. We got the shots we wanted, we got the looks we wanted."
Geneva salted the game away making 25 of 28 free throws led by Borkowicz hitting 13 of 14.
"It was a revenge thing for me because last time we played Maine West I missed the 1-and-1s," Borkowicz said. "I knew I needed to hit these."
Whitley started her night by winning the 4A 3-point shooting competition, sinking 10 of 15. She kept the hot shooting going once the game started with 10 points in the first quarter, including a 3 just as time expired for a 14-11 lead.
Whitley also hit a buzzer-beater to end the second quarter for a 28-18 halftime lead.
"We didn't do a very good job containing Whitley which we knew we had to," de Marigny said.
Whitley made 4 of 8 from 3-point range and also was effective driving with three 2-point field goals. She capped her 23-point night hitting 5 of 6 free throws.
"I didn't hesitate," Whitley said. "I knew they were going to take away my 3 so I looked to drive more. I told myself I was going to be super aggressive today and I'm not going to hold back."
After getting outrebounded by 14 in the first meeting with Maine West, the Vikings won the battle 36-24 on Friday led by Stephanie Hart's 10, six for Mallory and five for Blackmore.
"It was a huge key for us tonight to win the rebound battle," Meadows said. "Maine West is a really nice team."
Geneva also defeated Maine West in last year's supersectional and has ended 17-, 13- and 14-game win streaks by the Warriors, who will play Edwardsville Saturday for third place.
Fallon led Maine West with 14 points. Angela Dugalic added 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 at the line.
"I should have finished my layups," Dugalic said. "Today wasn't my day but there's always tomorrow."
Geneva lost to Montini 52-50 earlier this season in the championship game of the Lady Broncos' Christmas tournament.
"It's always been a close game," Hart said. "We really want it."