Geneva's size, versatility too much for Batavia
Cassidy Arni and Zosia Wrobel, together, present a conundrum most opponents just can't contend with.
Both Geneva girls stand near 6-foot, size that plays well near the rim. What makes them unique is both can also hit the 3-point shot.
That dynamic skill set was on display Saturday at Batavia.
Wrobel scored 19 points and Arni 17, and they combined to hit seven 3-pointers. That and Geneva's stingy second-half defense allowed the Vikings to erase an early nine-point deficit and go on to a 50-39 win over Batavia to remain unbeaten in the DuKane Conference.
A third 6-footer, Lauren Slagle, added 10 points for Geneva (19-4, 11-0), which can clinch a share of the conference title with its next win.
"I think we're a really dynamic team," said Wrobel, who scored 10 of her 19 in the third quarter and also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. "Me, Lauren, Cassidy, we can shoot, we can post up, all three of us can post up and get rebounds. It's really hard to guard when you have three really versatile players like that."
Wrobel's corner three, off a kick out from Arni, on Geneva's first possession of the second half gave the Vikings their first lead, 28-25, and the lead for good, the start of a 10-2 run out of halftime.
Arni assisted a second Wrobel three midway through the third quarter and added the fourth of her own five threes for a 38-30 lead with 3:30 left.
The Vikings, sweeping the season series with their closest rivals, responded well after trailing 19-10 after a quarter.
"I think we really just dug deep," Wrobel said. "All of us had the mentality that this is a rivalry game, it's a big game, it's a statement game. We really dug deep and played team basketball."
Batavia (15-12, 7-3), with a chance to pull within a game of Geneva in the league race, came out strong behind Tessa Towers.
The 6-foot-5 Wisconsin recruit scored 12 of her 16 points in the first quarter, and made her first six shots from the field with an array of short jumpers and jump hooks.
Towers' short turnaround jumper the first minute of the second quarter gave Batavia a 21-12 lead -- but things quickly changed.
Towers was held to just one basket the rest of the game, and was held scoreless in the second half on six shot attempts.
"That first quarter she owned us, that's for sure," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "We just needed to make some adjustments. We wanted her to catch the ball a little bit higher and just make it a little harder. I thought Lauren did an excellent job."
Batavia coach Kevin Jensen felt that early on Towers' teammates were able to get her the ball quick enough on the blocks that she could score before defensive help came. But more help came as the game progressed and Towers was forced to catch the ball further out.
Batavia, as a team, scored just 20 points over the final three quarters on 8-for-40 shooting after coming out hot. Towers did finish with 12 rebounds.
"She got pushed out and then the help came from both sides," Jensen said. "She got out of her comfort zone a little bit catching in spots that weren't as comfortable to her. We did a much better job in the first half of getting her touches exactly where she needs the ball."
Geneva closed the gap with an 8-0 run capped off by an Arni score off a turnover, and Slagel's transition basket in the final seconds of the half tied it at 25-25.
Arni made all five of her 3-point attempts, banking in the last shot midway through the fourth quarter for a 48-36 lead. The 5-foot-11 junior's shots are rainbows, with a higher arc than most -- but effective.
"I don't try to do it that way, it's just how I shoot them," Arni said. "I've always shot that way."
Arni hasn't always played on the perimeter. When she first came to Geneva, she did most of her work around the rim, but has expanded outward with the presence of Wrobel and Slagle.
Her length Saturday also proved useful in containing standout Batavia sophomore guard Brooke Carlson. Carlson, averaging close to 18 points per game coming in, was held to nine on 2-for-13 shooting.
"We wanted to put some length on [Carlson]," Meadows said. "Cassidy did a wonderful job. She's a great defender. We felt Cassidy's build and length would bother her, but Brooke is a great player. If we play them a third time, we'll go at it again."