Geneva takes thriller despite Hiltons 33
For Geneva, it was a matter of restoring order in the Upstate Eight River Division and avenging an earlier loss to St. Charles East.
To do that, the Vikings had to somehow corral Saints' guard Amanda Hilton, who turned Geneva's court into her personal Indy 500 on Friday night in racing to a career-high 33 points.
But Geneva (12-8, 6-2) had five players in double figures to offset Hilton's are-you-kidding-me? performance and nail down a crucial 75-69 overtime victory to tighten the conference race. Geneva moved within a half game of St. Charles East (12-10, 7-2) and Streamwood (15-4, 6-1).
Even though Sidney Santos tallied 22 points and scored four in the critical overtime period to lead Geneva, it was Hilton who was on everyone's post-game mind.
"She's a great player," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "She can handle the ball, she can shoot, and it's just really hard to guard her.
"Our kids were getting tired, but she was still going," Meadows said, adding the sound of a roaring motor for effect.
There wasn't anything magical about Hilton's night, at least not in her eyes.
"They were in foul trouble early and we just kept trying to drive, to get fouls and go to the line," Hilton said. "It was a really good game with some tense moments, but I love those moments and strive for them."
Luckily for Geneva, the Saints didn't have much of an answer for Santos either. Or any of Geneva's taller frontline players, for that matter.
Sami Pawlak had 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Abby Novak tallied 12 points and seven rebounds, while Morgan Seberger scored 12 points and Kelly Gordon added 10.
Carly Pottle helped the Saints' cause with 14 points, including a 3-point shot with about three seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime at 62-62. Laney Deckrow added 10 points.
"We had three players in double figures, and that's pretty good, but Geneva had five and that's better," St. Charles East coach Lori Drumtra said.
"We couldn't stop Santos, but they can't stop Amanda," Drumtra added.
Geneva had to overcome a sluggish first quarter to climb back within 34-30 at the half, partly thanks to a Seberger 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
The Vikings were down 34-22 before tallying the final 8 points of the half, and kept that surge going into the second half to eventually compile a 21-3 run that resulted in a 43-37 lead.
Hilton got St. Charles back on track quickly with a spinning bank shot in the lane and a 3-point bomb as the teams entered the final quarter tied at 45-45.
Pawlak scored inside and converted a free throw for a 53-49 Geneva lead after being awarded continuation on a play in which the foul appeared to have occurred on the floor well prior to the shot.
"That was a big play, but the girls didn't let it bother them and I was proud of the way they came back," Drumtra said.
When Santos canned a pair of free throws for a 62-59 lead with 15 seconds left, Pottle answered with her 3-point catapult from the top of the key to send the game into overtime.
When Gordon slashed to the basket for two inside scores, and Seberger sank two free throws, the Vikings enjoyed some breathing room to work with in the overtime.
Again, Hilton would not give up, scoring a driving layup and two free throws to trim Geneva's lead to 68-66, but Santos answered with an inside score and two free tosses of her own to keep the Saints at bay.
"They are a really good team without a doubt," Santos said of the Saints. "I used to play AAU with her (Hilton) and she is such an amazing player.
"She will never give up mentally and she's always encouraging her teammates," Santos added. "We started off so badly in the first half, but mentally we didn't want the same outcome as last time, so we had to pull it together no matter what."
Geneva hit 27 of 56 shots for 48 percent, while St. Charles shot 21-of-47 for 44 percent. Geneva enjoyed a 33-23 rebounding edge.
"St. Charles East came to play tonight and we had to play with some heart to win this game," Meadows said.
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