Geneva High School
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St. Charles East coach Josh Foster and the bench reacts to a Fighting Saints’ three-point basket during Tuesday’s Class 4A sectional semifinal girls basketball game in Bartlett.
Paul Valade | Staff
St. Charles East stuns top-seed Geneva
Updated Feb 22, 2022 10:32 PM
St. Charles East took its first lead early in the second quarter Tuesday against No. 1 seed Geneva in the Class 4A Bartlett sectional semifinals.The Vikings had almost three quarters to take back control of the game, and do to the Saints what they had in a pair of double-digit regular season victories.But the Saints had the answer — often provided by senior guard Torrie Kortan — for every one of Geneva’s runs. The Vikings never regained the lead, and fourth-seed St. Charles East held on for a 43-42 upset win over a tradition-rich program that has caused them plenty of frustration through the years. “I told them your moms and dads came to support you. Everyone else came to watch you lose,” said Saints coach Josh Foster, who took over the team in January. “Let’s go out there and ruin people’s night. That’s why we came was to ruin someone’s night, and we’ll try to ruin someone else’s night on Thursday.”That would be Wheaton North (22-7), another DuKane Conference rival who St. Charles East (21-6) will play for the sectional championship. The teams split this season.Like her new coach, Kortan never lost confidence despite the lack of regular season success against Geneva.“We knew if we put pressure on them they would eventually fold because usually they are never down like that,” said Kortan, who led the Saints with 16 points.“Everyone always just sees the name on their shirt and gives them the game. We didn’t give them the game this time. Last two times we played them we shot ourselves in the foot. I feel in the end tonight it was us making more hustle plays. We wanted it more I feel like.”Geneva (25-5) had won 21 of its last 22 games including 14 in a row. That streak included 77-64 and 68-52 wins over the Saints.The Vikings didn’t come close to that offensive output Tuesday. Caroline Madden banked in a 3-pointer to give Geneva a 5-0 lead to start the game — then they missed their next 16 from beyond the arc. The Vikings shot just 26.2% (16 for 61) from the field and also hurt themselves by making just 7 of 14 free throws.“That’s something we normally are good at,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said of the 3-point misses. “We are good at getting to the rim and we are good at kicking it out and hitting the 3. They just weren’t falling. We didn’t shoot well at the free-throw line. You give up 7 points there in a close game and it’s huge.”Trailing 11-6 after one quarter, the Saints scored the first seven points of the second quarter. Kortan’s steal and assist to sophomore Alexis Maridis for a layup put St. Charles East up 13-11 in what turned out to be the only lead change of the game.Cali Perez opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer for the Saints to make it 25-16, their biggest lead. Geneva turned up its defensive pressure, and after not forcing a single turnover in the first half, got 11 in the second.That helped the Vikings pull even at 27-27 on Zosia Wrobel’s layup after a steal and assist by Rilee Hasegawa. Kortan answered with a conventional 3-point play and then a 3-point shot as the Saints took a 33-31 lead to the fourth quarter.Geneva tied the game twice in the fourth, the final time when Cassidy Arni finally ended the Vikings’ 3-point drought with a corner 3 to make it 37-37 with 2:14 to go.Emma Yakey immediately put the Saints up again with a long 3-pointer of her own on a Kortan assist. Lexi DiOrio split free throws for a 41-37 lead at 1:18. Arni’s drive brought the Vikings within 41-39, and they fouled Kortan with :17.5 left for pressure free throws.
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Geneva tops St. Charles East, clinches share of DuKane crown
Updated Feb 3, 2022 10:26 PM
In a sign of the times, scouting has become more convenient for St. Charles East girls basketball coach Josh Foster — like most coaches.Which certainly doesn’t make playing Geneva any easier.“Now it’s so easy to watch film with Hudl and this and that, and I’ve watched every conference game,” Foster said Thursday night following a 75-64 loss to Geneva that clinched a share of the DuKane Conference championship for the Vikings.“They just find a way to win. You have that many skilled players, somebody steps up. They are very balanced. It makes it tough to win against a team like that.”The Vikings (20-4, 12-0) flashed that balance while not only clinching a share of the title but ending a 6-game winning streak for St. Charles East (16-6. 7-5).Junior Lauren Slagle led four Geneva players in double figures with 23 points and also grabbed 7 rebounds. The Vikings can clinch the DuKane outright by beating either Wheaton North on Saturday or Lake Park next week.“Our conference, there are so many individual girls who are amazing. We are grateful to have a good conference because it gets us ready for regional, sectionals. The competition is amazing,” Slagle said.“Tonight, we came out strong. We have something to prove, we want to be undefeated in conference. Tonight we played together,”The Saints took a couple early leads, the final one coming at 12-9 when Torrie Kortan hit a 3-pointer midway through a high-scoring first quarter.Geneva quickly answered with back-to-back baskets by Slagle to go up 13-12, and the Vikings didn’t trail again. A putback by Slagle, Cassidy Arni’s layup and a 3-pointer by Leah Palmer completed a 12-0 Geneva run for a 21-12 lead, which stood at 23-14 after the first quarter.A 3-pointer from Saints sophomore Lexi Diorio early in the second quarter closed the gap to 23-21, but the Vikings soon heated up again with that balanced attack and by halftime led 33-24. The margin stood at 55-40 through three quarters and the Saints got no closer than 7 points in the fourth.“Our team has so much chemistry on and off the court,” Slagle said. “Our hunger and our passion as a team, on and off the court, we are best friends. I think that helps. We come out and we fight.”Zosia Wrobel and Palmer followed Slagle with 17 points each, Arni scored 11 with 8 rebounds and 5 assists, and Caroline Madden hit a pair of 3-pointers while scoring 8.“It wasn’t pretty but we got through it,” Vikings coach Sarah Meadows said. “We are putting it together. There are times we have to be a little more disciplined, a little more under control. Once you get into postseason you are going to have to be able to execute in the half court. You aren’t going to be able to run and gun. We have to grow a little bit there.”Kortan led the Saints with 21 points and 5 rebounds. Diorio scored 19 points and Cali Papez had 12.“We are finding our stride,” Foster said. “We have to start another streak here. “I told the girls they (Geneva) have been winning for a long time, you aren’t going to get a majority of the calls or the bounces. They are tough. They are all big and skilled. I thought if the shots we normally make would have gone in in the second and third quarters we would have won the game.”
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Geneva’s Cassidy Arni takes a shot as St. Charles North’s Erin Stack defends Thursday.
Paul Valade | Staff
Geneva shoots past SCN, still perfect in DuKane
Updated Jan 27, 2022 11:23 PM
Mike Tomczak was hoping to see Geneva miss a shot.The Vikings shot a blistering 50% from the field in the first half Thursday night against his St. Charles North girls basketball team and held a 16-point halftime advantage.Tomczak got his wish after halftime as his North Stars clawed back, but it was too much Cassidy Arni and Geneva timely shooting as the Vikings pulled away for a 66-50 victory to remain unbeaten in DuKane Conference play.Arni finished with a game-high 23 points and five steals. Her final basket of the night was a 3-pointer that aided a 13-1 run to finish the game after St. Charles North cut its deficit just four.“We were hoping they weren’t going to make every shot in the second half,” Tomczak said. “It certainly seemed like they did in the first half… We knew if we didn’t make a push early on [in the third quarter], that game could have gotten ugly. We didn’t finish it all the way, but I’m proud of how we responded.”“We knew they were going to come at us strong,” Arni said.” [St. Charles North] is a great team. I think that’s something we need to improve on, but I think we did a good job of bringing back that energy… I think we just had to keep each other up and just play together. We play our best when we play team ball.”Speaking of team ball, the Vikings (18-4, 10-0 DuKane Conference) had six of its seven players score points in Thursday night’s win, including Zosia Wrobel (17 points) and Leah Palmer (16) joining Arni in double figures.Geneva used its team defense to hold the North Stars (14-11, 4-6) scoreless over the final 4:22 of action. The North Stars didn’t make a shot from the field in the final 7:33 of Thursday’s loss.Alyssa Hughes matched Arni with 23 points of her own in defeat for St. Charles North in trying to bring the North Stars back from a deficit that grew to as big as 18 in the first half.“I think that’s been the story of our season,” Tomczak said. ”We start a little slower, dig ourselves a hole and fight like crazy to come back. We’re using everything we have to come back, but we run out of gas. You can’t do that against teams of this caliber.”While the Vikings cooled down to shoot 37% in the second half, it relied on the solid defensive effort to hold off a strong third-quarter effort from the North Stars.When Geneva needed it most, it got back to playing theunselfish basketball that has kept it unbeaten through conference play.“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “[St. Charles North] plays us tough each and every time we face them. We battle with them every game and we knew it was coming. We need to do abetter job of executing, but we’re starting to get there.”“I think we just got back to not taking the first shot,” Wrobel said of her team’s response. “When we pass the ball four or five times,the defense loses focus or can get lazy and we can get a wide open layup orshot… We can all shoot so it can be really hard to guard.”Reagan Sipla added 12 points in the loss for the North Stars.