Geneva clinches outright DuKane championship

 
 
Updated 2/5/2022 7:16 PM

Geneva's size -- starting three 6-footers and another at 5-11 -- is a big reason the Vikings entered Saturday's regular season home finale at 20-4 having just secured the No. 1 seed at the Class 4A Bartlett sectional.

Yet it was Rilee Hasegawa, standing just 5-2, who came off the bench and impacted the game as much as all her talented, taller teammates.

 

Hasegawa did a little of everything -- hustling on defense, finding her teammates for open shots on offense -- while finishing with 6 points, 6 assists, 3 steals and 5 rebounds in a 78-63 win over Wheaton North.

"She played out of her mind, she played so well," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "But she can do that. We need her to do that every game. She's played really big minutes for us the entire year but tonight she played really well on both sides of the ball. She's so little and she kind of gets pushed around but she always gets back up and battles."

The victory clinched an outright DuKane Conference title for Geneva (21-4, 13-0), who won the second meeting with the Falcons (19-6, 10-3) much easier than an earlier 54-51 victory.

Wheaton North scored the game's first five points, but the Vikings quickly gained control with an unselfish attack that saw them assist on 6 of their 8 first-quarter baskets. Cassidy Arni found Lauren Slagle on a backdoor cut to tie the game at 5, then Zosia Wrobel knocked down a corner 3-pointer to put the Vikings ahead to stay at 8-6.

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Leah Palmer threw a perfect pass on fastbreak to Slagle for a conventional 3-point play.

Hasegawa entered the game and weaved her way the length of the court through the Falcons' press and in for a layup. Moments later she found Palmer for a bucket, and Arni capped the quarter with a steal and breakaway layup for a 21-10 lead.

"We always try to find the open girl," Hasegawa said. "We trust each other that they can knock down the shots."

Claire Hyde, who set Wheaton North's all-time scoring record last Saturday, tried to keep the Falcons close with 15 first-half points. Her 3-pointer made it 32-23 with two minutes left in the first half.

But the Vikings closed strong on a 10-2 run to go up 42-25 at halftime. Hasegawa again was in the middle of it, assisting Wrobel for back-to-back baskets including one on a play that started on the defensive end with her steal from Hyde.

Arni guarded Hyde most of the game except for two stretches in foul trouble. Hasegawa took the assignment then and did well, even with Hyde trying to post her up inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Even though I'm small I stay aggressive and do what I can," Hasegawa said. "I know I have quick feet and use that to the best of my ability."

Geneva took its biggest lead at 57-33 late in the third quarter, and Hyde fouled out a minute later. Wrobel nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter with the Vikings up 64-41.

Wrobel and Arni led a balanced attack with 19 points each, Slagle scored 15 and Palmer had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Seniors Jenna Conrad and Chrystiana Pagonis both scored baskets in the final two minutes.

"In the beginning of the season we struggled a little with that (passing) but we've come to the realization that when we play selfish basketball we don't win," Wrobel said. "That's happened before and I think we really lock in now and realize we have to make that extra pass to win games."

The Falcons went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter but never got closer than 13 points. Hyde scored 18 points, Sara Abdul had 14 and Zoey Bohmer added 9 points and 6 rebounds.

"Geneva is undefeated in conference for a reason," Falcons coach Dave Eaton said. "They have a ton of talent, they play very well together and their height causes issues throwing over our traps. Sarah is a great coach and got them ready to play. Congrats to them on winning the conference championship. As good as our conference is, credit to Geneva for being undefeated to this point. Our conference is loaded."

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