Geneva adjusts, downs Schaumburg for regional crown
Forty-five seconds into Friday night's Class 4A regional championship at Geneva, it looked like the host Vikings would have an easy time winning their 13th regional in a row. Schaumburg had turned the ball over three times in a row and Geneva was up 7-0.
The Saxons then down shifted their offense and Geneva could not find its range. The Vikings led 9-3 after the first quarter and 19-9 at halftime.
Geneva regained its shooting touch and took control of the game in the second half to put Schaumburg away 54-33.
With the win, the top-seeded Vikings (25-4) advance to the Bartlett sectional and will face DuKane Conference rival and fourth-seed St. Charles East (20-6) in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Vikings, also the DuKane Conference champions, beat the Saints twice during the regular season.
In the first half to counter Geneva's fast pace, Schaumburg played a very deliberate offense, with numerous perimeter passes before setting up a shot. But the Saxons were unable to complete the plays making only four baskets in the first two quarters. The Vikings also only swished the nets four times.
Geneva led at halftime due to its accurate free-throw shooting. The Vikings connected on 10 free throws while the Saxons only converted one in the first 16 minutes.
"Our game plan was to possess the ball as long as we could," said Schaumburg coach Jaqie Strauch. "We know that Geneva likes to run it and they like to score in transition, so we thought if we held that ball offensively, it prevents them from doing that so therefore there was low-scoring first quarter."
"I think the whole first half was a little rough for us. Schaumburg is playing for a regional title, they are slow on offense, we are not. You've got to make a little adjustment into the game," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "We were a little passive in the first half. I thought we needed to be a little more aggressive and get back to our style."
In the second half, Geneva improved its shot selection and its baskets started to fall.
"I think we needed to be patience on offense ourselves," Meadows said. "We just needed to make an adjustment to the pace of the game to make sure that we dictated that. I think we struggled a little bit doing that. In the second half we look more like Geneva."
Leah Palmer opened the Vikings' second-half scoring with the team's second 3-point shot of the night. The trey ignited Geneva's offense.
Geneva's Cassie Arni, who led all scorers with 24 points, also gave credit to the student cheering section.
"We just weren't playing Geneva basketball (in the first half). We just needed something to get us going," said the junior. "We came back in the second half and started making shots. We had a good student section. They got loud in the second half and we feed off that energy."
Geneva led 37-22 at the end of the third quarter.
"Once we had to extend our defense a little, that got them moving and it made them hard to guard," said Strauch.
Geneva also continued to make its free throws. The team connected on 20 of 23. Arni made 9 of 10.
Saxon senior Kim Kolodziej ended the game's scoring with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Schaumburg, which plays in the Mid Suburban League West Conference, finished the season with a 16-14 record.
"Sixteen wins, that's a big season for Schaumburg and it changes the trajectory for the future," Strauch said.