Geneva blitzes St. Charles East with 21-0 start
Geneva's girls basketball team knows the importance of getting off to a good start.
Relying on balanced scoring and their trademark pressure defense, the Vikings (7-2, 2-0) turned a good start into a great one by blanketing St. Charles East's offense while building a 19-0 first-quarter advantage Saturday afternoon.
The lead eventually swelled to 21-0 on a driving layup by sophomore guard Katherine Palmer before the Saints got into the score book on Emily Vitkus' 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 5:41 mark of the second quarter.
By then, however, much of the damage was already done as the Vikings cruised to a 49-25 DuKane Conference victory over the Saints (1-10, 1-2) in St. Charles.
Palmer poured in a game-high 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers and several aggressive drives to the basket.
"She's a baller for sure and she's just a sophomore," said Geneva coach Sarah Meadows. "She was on the sophomore team last year as a freshman and she has really stepped into her role and has done a nice job."
During their early run, the Vikings received offensive contributions from several players, including juniors Lindsay Blackmore (8 points, 9 rebounds), Grace Hinchman (8 rebounds, 5 assists), Katie Montgomery, Emma Kornak and senior Cassidy Navigato.
But it was their swarming man-to-man defense that helped lead to some of that offensive support.
"Our main focus coming into this game was pressure defense," said Palmer. "We know that as long as have that, we can get everything else going off that. It all starts on the defensive side."
St. Charles East, which dropped a hard-fought 46-38 nonconference decision to Bartlett (9-2) Friday night, outscored Geneva 12-6 in the second quarter to trim the deficit to 25-12 at halftime.
The Saints' second-quarter run was fueled by a 3-pointer from Vitkus (7 points), a steal and layup by freshman Torrie Kortan, and 2 free throws apiece from senior Taylor Shead and freshman Makenna Brown (5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals).
"The one thing I'll say about this group is that they'll never give up," said Saints coach Aubree Schuett. "They continue to fight.
"Last night (against Bartlett) was probably the best game I've seen this group play in the two years I've been here. There were a lot of factors in play but I don't think they ever gave up today."
Palmer scored 7 points during the Vikings' 12-4 third-quarter surge that extended their lead to 37-16 as both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we looked great in the first quarter and in the third quarter as well," said Meadows, who has guided Geneva to back-to-back Class 4A state titles. "That's what we keep talking about -- consistency. When we start to hit that consistent play, I think this team is going to surprise a lot of people. We lost a ton of mature players (to graduation). We're inexperienced and they're learning our system and how we do it."
"We want to make sure we're giving our hardest all of the time," said Palmer. "That's one of the main things we can always control -- hard work on both sides of the court."