High school sports dynasties: Girls No. 9, Geneva girls basketball
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top 10 boys and girls high school sports dynasties over the past 20 years, two at a time. We continue today at No. 9 with Geneva girls basketball and West Aurora boys basketball.
The 2000s have been a great time to be a Geneva girls basketball fan.
It started early in the decade when Todd Leden coached the Vikings to a 20-8 season in 2002, 27-3 in 2003 and 23-5 in 2004.
Those teams never had much success in the postseason, but that would soon change under coach Gina Nolan.
The Vikings went 26-4 and won their first regional in 22 years in 2006. Led by the school's all-time leading scorer Taylor Whitley, they really broke through in 2009, winning their first 32 games to take a 32-0 record to the Class 4A state tournament.
Geneva lost twice at state to take fourth, but that season was the first of 12 straight regional championships -- a streak that's still alive. During that span they have won seven sectional titles, took fourth in the 2014 4A state tournament and won the 2017 and 2018 Class 4A state championships with a string of unbelievable buzzer-beaters under coach Sarah Meadows.
They accomplished all that despite devastating season-ending injuries to some of their best players like Ashley Santos, Michaela Loebel, Sidney Santos (twice) and even this past season to Lindsay Blackmore.
While some schools lose their top athletes to specialization, Geneva has kept Division I athletes in other sports like Lauren Wicinski, Sammy Schofield, Loebel, Grace Loberg. Kate Montgomery and Grace Hinchman playing basketball.
And they have had plenty of basketball standouts like Whitley, her sister Margaret, the Santos sisters, Kat Yelle, Janie McCloughan, Abby Novak, Stephanie Hart, Maddy Yelle, Madison Mallory, Blackmore and countless more. They play team-first basketball the right way, pressuring full court defensively and sharing the ball with an up-tempo offense, passing up good shots for great ones.
"Geneva basketball is so special because our players and their families are dedicated, they trust us and we build very special relationships with each other," Meadows said. "We have a very special basketball program that has become a basketball family. Our kids work hard, they make sacrifices, they understand the importance of the word team and they want to win. So proud of our past kids who established what Geneva basketball means, so proud of our present kids who have continued that meaning and I am proud of our future kids who are learning and understanding right now, by watching us, how special Geneva girls basketball is."