Geneva gets revenge in thriller at Sycamore
Geneva's 13-point lead with 5:33 left against Sycamore evaporated to two in the closing seconds as the Spartans seemed poised for a second comeback win against the Vikings this year.
But Caroline Madden came up with a steal to keep the Spartans from tying or winning the game, then Rilee Hasegawa sunk a pair of free throws to seal a 62-58 win on Thursday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
"That kid works her tail off," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said of Madden, who had three steals in the game. "Our little No. 0, Riley, hits two huge free throws here. Those are big situations and they showed up and did a great job."
Geneva (23-4) led most of the game and all of the second half. Lauren Slagle connected on a 3-point play with 5:33 left and the Vikings led 56-43.
But Faith Feuerbach started the rally for Spartans (28-2), hitting two 3-pointers in less than 30 seconds -- she hadn't made a long ball since the first 20 seconds of the game. Down nine with 4 minutes left, Ella Shipley and Feuerbach connected on consecutive possessions for the Spartans to bring the game to 60-55 with 1:37 left.
Lexi Carlsen followed with a steal, and Feuerbach hit a 3-pointer with 1:28 left to make the game 60-58.
"I felt pretty good until they started to press and we started to crumble a little bit," Meadows said. "That's good learning for us. We have to have some composure in that situation. We'll learn."
The Vikings threw the ball away under the Sycamore press on the next possession, but Madden answered back with a steal. Cassidy Arni missed a free throw with 29.3 seconds left to keep the game at two points, then the teams traded turnovers.
With 14 seconds left, Sycamore set up for a chance to tie or win the game but Madden came up with a loose ball, got it to Hasegawa who was then fouled. She made both the high-pressure shots in the rocking gym to seal the road win.
"We had it, we just fumbled the ball and ended up getting a jump ball," Sycamore coach Adam Wickness said. "It's just one of those things we didn't execute but we'll watch the film and get better because of it."
Geneva led by as much as nine in the first half behind a barrage of offensive rebounds and second-chance points. The Vikings outscored the Spartans 23-4 on second-chance points and had 15 points from offensive rebounds in the first half alone.
Zosia Wrobel led all scorers with 23, and seven of her points were from offensive rebounds. She had nine boards in the game, while Arnl had a team-best 10. All six players who played for the Vikings had an offensive board.
"I think me Cass and Lauren are really good at those rebounds," Wrobel said. "Even our small players like ... we do a great job crashing."
Earlier this season, the Spartans knocked off the Vikings 48-47 in the final of the Burlington Central tournament behind a late 3-pointer from Feuerbach, with Sycamore trailing by as much as 11.
"It was a revenge game for us," Wrobel said. "We lost to them in a Thanksgiving tournament on a last-second shot. This game was pretty big for us. ... We went into halftime thinking we couldn't get cocky, that's what happened last time. We kind of let off the gas. And I think this time we did a little bit but then we fought back."
Arni scored 13 and Slagle had nine for the Vikings. Feuerbach had 22 to lead the Spartans while Evyn Carrier added 19 and Ella Shipley had nine. No Spartan had more than five rebounds.
"I am so unbelievably proud of those girls," Wickness said. "They fought to the very end. There's no quit. I just love coaching this team. They have zero quit in them. It's one of those things when you saw it on full display tonight."
Geneva hosts a 4A regional next week, opening with West Chicago on Monday. Sycamore heads to the 3A Rochelle regional against either the hosts or Plano on Monday as both teams eye deep postseason runs.
"That was a good win. That was fun," Meadows said. "In the middle of the second quarter I said to Adam this is awesome. It's just a great atmosphere going into playoffs, it's just two solid, solid teams playing each other. It was awesome."