Geneva shakes off slow start, runs past Batavia to stay perfect in DuKane – Shaw Local
BATAVIA – With the killer schedule Geneva plays, it’s going to take more than a slow start at rival Batavia for the Vikings to worry.
Geneva led Batavia 12-11 early in the second quarter Friday of its DuKane Conference matchup, struggling slightly with what turned out to be a pretty packed crowd at Batavia settling in.
But the Vikings quickly turned that 1-point lead into a comfortable margin the rest of the way. Kinsey Gracey nailed a 3-pointer and Lauren Slagle scored inside, the start of an 18-5 run to end the first half leaving Geneva up 30-16 on its way to a 62-40 victory.
Batavia (7-3, 2-2) never got closer than 14 points in the second half.
“We came out a little slow in the first quarter and our intensity picked up. We were able to trust each other more on the court,” said Slagle, who will play at Division II Grand Valley State next year.
“(Coach Sarah) Meadows was telling us she stacked our schedule this year. We needed a challenge, we were ready for a challenge. I think this just prepares us for the regular season, the postseason. I think it’s setting us up for success.”
Geneva (8-2, 4-0) has won all four of its conference games by at least 20 points — partly a testament to a nonconference schedule that has included Fremd, Lake Zurich, Naperville North and Barrington.
“It makes us more prepared for sure playing more difficult teams when we play teams like Batavia who is hard to battle,” said senior point guard Rilee Hasegawa, who was all over the court on both ends as usual Friday, diving for loose balls and making heads-up passes to teammates for open shots.
“We started playing together and when we do that, play Geneva basketball, that’s when we start to build momentum and all the nerves go away.”
That schedule only gets more challenging over the Christmas break when the Vikings go to Morton College against a field that starts with Marist and could include Deerfield, Hersey, Fremd and Benet — among others.
“It’s a really intense and high-level tournament and we’re always excited to play there,” said Hasegawa, who will play soccer in college at Florida Southern. “Our team always grows there. It’s a fun thing to do on break.”
Batavia coach Kevin Jensen called timeout with 6:44 left in the second quarter after Slagle’s bucket left the Vikings up 17-11. Natalie’s Warner 3-pointer briefly brought the Bulldogs back within 17-14 before Cassidy Arni drained a 3, scored on a feed from Caroline Madden, then came up with a steal and assist to Hasegawa for a 24-14 advantage.
Batavia junior Brooke Carlson, who is closing in on 1,000 points for the Bulldogs, started the third quarter with a layup.
But Arni answered with a basket on Slagle’s assist, then Hasegawa’s feed to Leah Palmer for a layup extended the lead to 34-18. By the end of the third quarter the Vikings were up 48-31, and both coaches cleared their benches with about three minutes remaining in the fourth.
Slagle scored a game-high 21 points and was joined in double figures by Palmer (12) and Arni (11).
“We were composed the whole game. We just couldn’t make those easy bunnies in the first quarter,” Meadows said. “We just had to stick with it and they finally fell. Our kids responded and I thought we looked pretty good.”
Batavia, who got 12 points from Carlson, also is in that Morton College tourney, and the Bulldogs have played a difficult schedule in its own right.
But getting over the hump against Geneva is never easy.
“It’s a small margin,” Jensen said. “There’s years we feel we have to play perfect to keep up with them. Like tonight, once we get the ball going all over the place and fumbling around, it was really hard for us to right the ship. That’s the toughest thing, they keep the pressure on you.
“I was talking to our other coaches, I feel like there’s a similar characteristic with them and our football program. Everyone going through there just believes they are good and they are going to win and go deep and sometimes they will play above and just keep on rolling.
“It was a night we couldn’t do a lot of things right and any mistake we had was a layup.”