Hot-shooting Geneva edges St. Charles North
Geneva hasn't shot the ball great to start the season, but the Vikings got hot at the right time Friday night at St. Charles North.
Missing starters Lauren Slagle and Rilee Hasegawa, Geneva's depth -- Chrystiana Pagonis, Caitlin Cassidy and Kinsey Gracey -- played a key role in the Vikings' 65-60 DuKane Conference victory. The Vikings improved to 6-3, 3-0.
"Those kids, Chrystiana, Caitlin and Kinsey, stepped up and did a really nice job for us," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "Everybody played well but we needed those three kids to play well and they did."
Clinging to a 62-60 lead in the final minute, Gracey found herself open under the basket, took a feed from Cassidy Arni, and banked the shot in for a two-possession lead. Caroline Madden added a free throw, and the North Stars (6-3, 1-1) didn't score in the final two minutes.
Earlier, Gracey nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Cassidy had another -- two of the six different Geneva players who combined to sink 13 3-pointers. That included 10-of-19 shooting in a high scoring first half full of big runs for both teams that ended with Geneva up 40-38.
"We had pretty good defense and we were making our shots," Arni said. "I felt it was an all-around good game. Both teams were solid."
Arni provided much of that good defense. After a hot start by St. Charles North junior guard Alyssa Hughes, who scored 12 points in the first quarter that ended with a 13-2 North Stars run for a 23-18 lead, Arni switched to cover Hughes.
"I play club with her (Hughes). She's just a stud, you don't know what she's going to do, which direction she's going to go," Arni said. "It's hard. She's definitely one of the hardest players I have to guard."
Sophomore Reagan Sipla took over the scoring for the North Stars in the second quarter, repeatedly penetrating through the lane for shots at the rim, and she had 21 points by halftime. Geneva again made a switch, putting the taller Zosia Wrobel on Sipla in the second half.
"We wanted a little more length and that helped us," Meadows said. "We have some length and that helps especially at the rim."
Sipla finished with 29 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists while Hughes scored 19 -- the two guards hitting all 10 of their free throws while combining for all but 12 of the North Stars points.
Arni capped a 17-4 Geneva run to close the first half by swishing a half-court shot at the buzzer. Both teams cooled off in the third quarter, and the game was tied at 49 going to the fourth.
Silva made the last of her three 3-point shots to give the North Stars their final lead at 54-51. Leah Palmer answered with a 3-pointer for Geneva, then Wrobel's 3 gave the Vikings the lead for good at 57-54. Madden followed by grabbing a long rebound by the free-throw line and sinking a 17-footer to make it 59-54 with four minutes to go.
After the North Stars pulled within 59-58 on Katrina Stack's lay-in, Wrobel buried her fourth 3-pointer with 2:20 to go for a 62-58 lead. Palmer made a key defensive play moments later, trapping Sipla to force a jump ball and give the Vikings possession.
"We needed some stops," Meadows said. "That was an offensive game. That was fun to watch. That was good girls basketball there."
North Stars coach Mike Tomczak concurred.
"That was a high level basketball game, girls or boys. Anyone who says anything about girls basketball, I'll give them the tape of that game," Tomczak said, also praising Geneva's effort and the play of Sipla.
"Our coaching staff knows she's capable of that."
Arni stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Wrobel (16 points), Palmer (11) and Madden (10) also hit double figures with Gracey adding 8.