Lake Park tops Geneva in OT
In a wildly entertaining back-and-forth battle for the DuKane Conference lead Friday night, both Geneva and Lake Park took turns falling into big deficits only to fight out of them.
Both teams rallied from double digits down to seemingly be in position to win. The visiting Lancers ended up with the comeback that stuck, getting a 3-pointer from DePaul-bound Darrione Rogers to force overtime of a 70-63 victory.
The win moves No. 6 Lake Park (14-4. 6-1) a half-game in front of No. 9 Geneva (14-5, 5-1) in what is shaping up to be another down-to-the-wire conference race.
As she's done many times before, Rogers carried her team at times, finishing with 39 points including 15-of-15 shooting at the free-throw line with 10 steals and 9 rebounds.
"It means a lot," Rogers said. "We knew in order to be in position to win conference we needed to come win this game."
Several of those steals came in the fourth quarter after Geneva's 26-4 run had turned a 12-point deficit into a 45-33 lead.
But instead of taking care of the ball and protecting the lead, those Rogers steals led to many of the possessions of her 19-point fourth quarter, the final three coming on her 3-pointer with 8 seconds left that tied the game at 57.
Lake Park dominated the first half, holding Geneva to 1-of-16 shooting in the opening quarter with 7 turnovers to go up 15-4. The Lancers led 25-17 at halftime.
"Our first half we were absolutely awful," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "Worst we've played. It can't happen. We just went through the motions. We just allowed them to punch us in the face and we were fine with it."
The Lancers took their biggest lead early in the third quarter when Eleanor Helm, lying on the ground after winning a battle for a loose ball, bounced a pass to Sara Balli for a lay-in to make it 29-17.
Geneva senior Lindsay Blackmore, a Colgate recruit, started the comeback with a 3-pointer. Kelly McCloughan's conventional 3-point play followed by another Blackmore 3-pointer, Kate Palmer's jumper and 2 Blackmore free throws after a technical foul on the Lake Park bench put the Vikings up 30-29.
The Vikings kept rolling to close the third quarter. Katie Montgomery stole the ball from Rogers to start a fastbreak that ended with Zosia Wrobel's layup.
Blackmore and McCloughan added baskets to end the quarter up 43-33, and Cassidy Arni opened the fourth with a score to complete a 24-point swing in less than a quarter of action.
"Third quarter we were a completely different team," Meadows said. "The difference in the first half to the third quarter to the fourth quarter, it was like three different basketball games."
Geneva still led 51-43 with five minutes left after McCloughan's nifty Euro-step score before the Lancers answered with a pair of Rogers free throws, a Rogers finger roll, and four more free throws from Rogers for a 52-51 lead with 2:47 remaining.
Blackmore, 6-for-6 herself at the line, put the Vikings back in front with two free throws, and she made two more with :58 left for a 57-54 lead.
But Rogers' last-second corner 3 off a perfectly executed out-of-bounds play that included Helm's screen tied it. Palmer's 22-footer at the buzzer hit off the front rim.
In overtime, Emma Thorne's back-to-back steals she took the other way for layups were part of her 7 straight points that opened a 64-57 Lancers lead.
"Emma really played big for us the last few minutes," Rogers said. "That was the key right there and why we ended up winning the game."
Geneva nearly had one more comeback, scoring six straight including a steal and layup by Arni to bring the Vikings within 64-63.
Rogers again hit a pair of free throws for a 3-point lead with :45 left, and Blackmore misfired on a potential tying 3. Thorne made 2 free throws for a 2-possession lead with 16 seconds to go, capping a 26-for-29 effort at the line by the Lancers. Geneva shot 9 for 15.
"I think we regrouped, we all settled in," Lancers coach Brian Rupp said. "D (Rogers) sets the tone for everything. We always know we are in a game when she's on the floor. It was a really fun team win for us. Down the stretch we executed really well."
Geneva turned the ball over 5 times in overtime, 7 times in the fourth quarter and 28 in the game. Montgomery fouling out didn't help.
"I think our defense runs everything," Balli said. "Without our defense we wouldn't have been in that game. This is a huge win for us. Geneva has been a team we wanted to beat for a long time."
Blackmore scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half to lead Geneva, also finishing with 16 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. McCloughan (12 points), Arni (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Palmer (10 points) scored in double figures.
Balli and Thorne complemented Rogers, both scoring 13 points and combing for 7 steals.
"We have fast, quick players that create problems," Rupp said. "They are smart at baiting them into passes. We had them rattled. It was a really awesome high school basketball game."