Geneva tips Naperville North in OT thriller
The final 3-point attempt from Abby Drendel clanked off the rim and safely into the waiting arms of Leah Palmer to cap off Geneva's comeback win.
Palmer, a Geneva junior and three-year varsity starter, was one of the motors behind the Vikings' 52-51 victory over Naperville North in overtime on Tuesday.
Palmer scored seven of her 19 points in the extra period as Geneva, which trailed by five points at halftime and three after three quarters, handed Naperville North its first loss.
After a scoreless first quarter, Palmer heated up for seven points in the second quarter and exuded the confidence and type of impact expected of a player -- and varsity experience accumulated -- to this point.
"And, [Palmer] scores and you're like: 'How did she just make that that?' Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "She rebounds. She rebounds over two kids and then can put it back up. She's playing a huge role for us right now."
With 2:55 left in the fourth quarter, Vikings senior point guard Rilee Hasegawa sank a 3-pointer to tie the game at 40. After a layup attempt by Huskies senior Layla Henderson rimmed in and out, Vikings guard Caroline Madden countered with a 3 to give the Vikings the 43-40 advantage with 1:52 left in regulation. Abby Homan answered with a 3 for Naperville North (4-1) with 1:30 left to tie it 43-43, where it remained into overtime.
Lauren Slagle opened overtime with a rebound and ensuing coast-to-coast layup to get the Vikings (3-1) going, but Henderson answered with a three-point play for a one-point lead. Palmer hit a layup, followed by Henderson's 3 and Palmer again answered with another layup to re-tie the game at 49 with 2:22 left in overtime.
Palmer then split free throws for the one-point lead with 1:27 left. Hasegawa missed the one-and-one free throw and Henderson again took advantage with her own layup, but missed the free throw for the 51-50 Huskies lead with 30 seconds left.
Palmer, in crunchtime, hit her final layup with 17 seconds left and Drendel's eventual 3 at the buzzer fell short.
"Obviously, [early on] my shot was not how I wanted it to be. It wasn't as consistent as it usually is," Palmer began. "So, I knew that I had to lockdown on defense and get some steals as well. Also, crash the boards really hard to get up second chance shots."
While Hasegawa's stat line of five points doesn't appear very impactful, her game beyond points and rebounds tells a completely different story.
Hasegawa's speed proved to be critical in diving for loose balls and causing deflections, and she was also able to split two defenders to somehow find a knifing Palmer underneath for the basket to pull Geneva within two points with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter.
The spark plug-type impact certainly isn't lost on Geneva.
"She's great for us," Palmer said. "I mean, she's super fast. She does all the little things for us, which we love. She's able to [knock] down a three in clutch moments and also [get] really nice assists and get some clutch deflections at the end, too."
"We always say that about Rilee: She's not going to blow up the stat sheet, but what she does on the court you can't not have her on the court," Meadows said. "She provides so much. She's so fast. Like, freaky-fast, so it's really fun to watch her play."
Cassidy Arni had five points and seven rebounds for Geneva, while Caroline Madden had five points and four rebounds.
Naperville North, meanwhile, was paced by Henderson's 14 points and four rebounds. Peyton Fenner had 14 points and eight rebounds and Drendel had 12 points and four rebounds.
"I feel like we kind of ran out of gas [at the end]," Huskies coach Erin Colletti said. "We're not very deep into the bench, so I feel like we kind of lost our endurance. [Geneva] got a lot of second shot opportunities ... we missed some free throws as well, so it's like it could've went either way. I think we kind of got out-toughed at the end.
"Our first four games, we've had a pretty balanced attack. Layla [Henderson] definitely has some more responsibility in scoring as well as rebounding. She's got one of the quickest first steps that I've ever seen and then she can obviously shoot the 3. So, she's a big-time threat."