Geneva edges Wheaton North to take DuKane lead

  • Geneva's Cassidy Arni looks for an opening during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Geneva's Cassidy Arni looks for an opening during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Wheaton North's Eden Pearson attempts a shot during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Wheaton North's Eden Pearson attempts a shot during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Wheaton North's Claire Hyde (right) gets a shot under the defense of Geneva's Cassidy Arni during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Wheaton North's Claire Hyde (right) gets a shot under the defense of Geneva's Cassidy Arni during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Leah Palmer keeps the ball away from Wheaton North's Claire Hyde during the Vikings' 54-51 DuKane Conference win Saturday at Wheaton North.

    Geneva's Leah Palmer keeps the ball away from Wheaton North's Claire Hyde during the Vikings' 54-51 DuKane Conference win Saturday at Wheaton North. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Wheaton North's Zoey Boomer (1) gets a shot up during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Wheaton North's Zoey Boomer (1) gets a shot up during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Zosia Wrobel (12) looks to pass the ball during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Geneva's Zosia Wrobel (12) looks to pass the ball during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Wheaton North's Sara Abdul looks for an opening during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Wheaton North's Sara Abdul looks for an opening during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Wheaton North's Allie Whitmer grabs a rebound during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Wheaton North's Allie Whitmer grabs a rebound during a home game against Geneva on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) passes the ball during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

    Geneva's Lauren Slagle (33) passes the ball during a game at Wheaton North on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Caroline Madden passes the ball Saturday.

    Geneva's Caroline Madden passes the ball Saturday. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Wheaton North's Lindsey Shanahan goes up for a shot Saturday during the Falcons' 54-51 loss to Geneva in Wheaton.

    Wheaton North's Lindsey Shanahan goes up for a shot Saturday during the Falcons' 54-51 loss to Geneva in Wheaton. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

 
 
Updated 1/8/2022 9:57 PM

Leah Palmer earned her redemptive moment.

Geneva sophomore's forward missed two free throws with 26.7 seconds left as the Vikings nursed a two-point lead Saturday at Wheaton North. Twenty-one seconds later, it was Palmer again on the line in a game-clinching situation.

 

She drained both.

"I tried to be as confident as I could," Palmer said following Geneva's 54-51 victory over Wheaton North on Saturday that kept the Vikings perfect in DuKane Conference play. "I knew I needed to push [those misses] past me and be like 'It's over, it's done' and I had to step up and make those two free throws for my team."

Palmer's second chance, Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said, was "exactly what she wanted to [have] happen."

"Because she was [irritated] she missed the other two," Meadows said. "So now, when it really matters more, I'm going to knock them down. She stepped up and did it."

Despite the three-point lead, the Vikings (12-4, 5-0) had to survive a scare in the final seconds from the Falcons (13-4, 5-1).

Falcons star senior guard Claire Hyde got free for a three-point attempt for the tie, but it clanked off the rim. The Falcons collected the rebound and had one final shot attempt from Lindsay Shanahan, which missed.

Geneva overcame losing standout Cassidy Arni, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, to win the matchup of DuKane Conference leaders.

"I feel like we executed down the stretch," Meadows said. "We lose Cassidy there and our kids played OK. That's a big loss for us, so I thought our kids stepped up and did a nice job of taking care of the ball and we got stops."

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Hyde had 23 points and five rebounds for Wheaton North, her layup with 28 seconds left cutting Geneva's lead to 50-48 that set the stage for Palmer's eventual finish.

Palmer missed the free throws, but Zosia Wrobel (14 points, five rebounds) corralled a rebound on the second miss, which led to Caroline Madden's two free throws to make it a four-point lead with 17.8 seconds left.

Hyde answered that with a tough layup and three-point play to pull Wheaton North within one. Palmer's bounce-back free throws finished it off.

"I thought our kids did a nice job down the stretch. It's hard to play here. It's hard to play them," Meadows said. "They're amped up all the time, which that's exactly what we want, too."

Sara Abdul scored 12 points and Shanahan 11 for Wheaton North.

"Geneva, obviously, is a really good team. They just beat Benet and last time I saw, they were ranked fourth in the state [in the AP polls]," Falcons coach Dave Eaton said. "I thought that [finish] it just showed our kids, we talk about it all the time: Our bread and butter is how we practice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I thought we could've tightened some things up on the defensive end a little bit, but it's a good start for where we want to be. Geneva has a ton of height and a ton of shooters, so they're a really tough matchup. I thought it was a good game."

Madden, a Vikings sophomore, had eight points and four rebounds. But her impact goes well beyond the stat sheet. Madden drew the difficult defensive assignment of guarding Hyde in the second half.

"I thought [Madden] played well for us," Meadows said. "I thought she played a full [game]. She had to guard Claire in the second half and she did a nice job. I thought she did an awesome job."

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